Hiroshima : 70 Years After the A-bombing

Japanese prime minister compares nuclear deterrence to “sword”

by Jumpei Fujimura, Staff Writer

A proposed security bill is intended to bolster the Japan-U.S. military alliance and enable global cooperation between Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military. On May 27, when full deliberations on the security bill began in the Diet, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe compared the significance of the bill to a “sword.”

Mr. Abe said it was essential to maintain nuclear deterrence, saying that if an opponent recognizes that serious repercussions will result once a sword is drawn, the sword would never need to be drawn from the scabbard.

In the context of the Japan-U.S. alliance, the ultimate “sword” to which Mr. Abe referred is nothing less than nuclear arms. According to his way of thinking, in order to deter China’s maritime assertiveness and North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, strengthening the alliance between Japan and the United States, which provides the nuclear umbrella, is imperative.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida also attended the deliberations on the security bill. As an elected lawmaker from Hiroshima, Mr. Kishida has been developing diplomatic efforts to advance the abolition of nuclear weapons. Yet at the same time, he has steadily worked to achieve Mr. Abe’s aim of strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance. One of the prime minister’s goals was updating the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation for the first time in 18 years. The Japan-U.S. defense guidelines are closely connected to the security bill.

One month before the Diet deliberations, Mr. Abe visited the United States and addressed a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the first prime minister of Japan to make such an appearance before Congress. With Mr. Kishida on the floor, Mr. Abe stated flatly that the security bill would be enacted by this coming summer. The summer of 2015 is also the time when Japan will mark the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The A-bombed nation is now at a critical juncture.

(Originally published on June 6, 2015)