China has been rattled by calls for Japan to host U.S. nuclear weapons, responding angrily to proposals by Japan’s former prime minister, Shinzo Abe, for Tokyo to consider arming up over rising concern with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Shinzo Abe, who resigned in 2020 but maintains a strong influence over Japan’s foreign policy, said Japan should cast off its taboos surrounding nuclear weapons following the outbreak of war in Ukraine.
Like Ukraine, Japan is similarly at a strategic disadvantage against neighbouring China, which has a massive arsenal of nuclear arms. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has created regional concerns that China may invade Taiwan while the rest of the world focuses on Ukraine.
“In NATO, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy take part in nuclear sharing, hosting American nuclear weapons,” Abe said in a TV interview, Nikkei Asia reported. “We need to understand how security is maintained around the world and not consider it taboo to have an open discussion.”
“We should firmly consider various options when we talk about how we can protect Japan and the lives of its people in this reality,” he said.
The move would reverse Japan’s long-held position on nuclear disarmament, which it adopted after the Second World War — and remains the only country in the world to be hit with nuclear bombs in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The devastating attacks forced it to surrender to the United States.
Since the war, Japan has maintained good relations with the United States and is part of the superpower’s nuclear umbrella, but has adhered to its three non-nuclear principles preventing it from producing, possessing, or allowing them on its territory.
Abe’s call to host nuclear weapons was rejected by current Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who called it “unacceptable given our country’s stance of maintaining the three non-nuclear principles,” per Taipei Times.
“Japanese politicians have frequently spread fallacies related to Taiwan and even blatantly made false remarks that violate the nation’s three non-nuclear principles,” retorted Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin in response to Abe’s suggestion, making his remarks to journalists in Beijing.
“We strongly ask Japan to deeply reflect on its history,” Wang continued, warning Tokyo to be “cautious in words and deeds on the Taiwan issue to stop provoking trouble.”
Abe, a staunch conservative who opposes Japan’s “pacifist” stance, said that any conflict involving China and Taiwan will necessitate Japanese involvement, and called for the United States to end its “strategic ambiguity” over Taiwan’s sovereignty.
“The U.S. takes a strategy of ambiguity, meaning it may or may not intervene militarily if Taiwan is attacked,” Abe stated. “By showing it may intervene, it keeps China in check, but by leaving open the possibility that it may not intervene, it makes sure that the Taiwanese forces for independence do not get out of control.”