Japanese government expresses concern over retirement of Tomahawk cruise missiles

by Yumi Kanazaki, Staff Writer

It was learned on July 10 that the Japanese government has expressed concern to Washington over the U.S. plan to retire the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile/Nuclear (TLAM/N) starting within the next couple of years. It appears that the Japanese government hopes to prevent a weakening of the nuclear umbrella, and this stance clearly shows the contradiction in which the A-bombed nation is impeding nuclear disarmament while calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, whose chairman is former Defense Secretary William Perry, stated in its final report on the U.S. nuclear strategy issued this May that “some U.S. Allies in Asia would be very concerned by TLAM/N retirement.”

A U.S. security expert, who followed the deliberations of the commission closely, explained to the Chugoku Shimbun that “several sources said that one of the U.S. Allies mentioned in the report is Japan. Clearly, the Japanese government has a specific concern over Tomahawks (whose life span will expire as early as 2013).”

In the nominal register of the commission, the names of four staff members of the Embassy of Japan in the U.S. are listed as “consultants.” This final report is said to have an influence over the Nuclear Posture Review, a long-term policy that the U.S. government will compile by the end of this year.

Masafumi Takubo, 58, who manages the website called “Nuclear Information,” has analyzed the situation and believes it signifies the Japanese government’s suspicions concerning the credibility of extended deterrence (the nuclear umbrella). The North American Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, on the other hand, said, “Japan would not interfere in the individual nuclear capability of the U.S. What Japan needs is an overall balance between the ultimate goal of nuclear abolition and our national security.”

Extended deterrence (the nuclear umbrella)
In contrast to the idea of basic deterrence, which means protecting the homeland, extended deterrence is a concept that implies protecting allies from their enemies. Deterrence with a nuclear capability is called the “nuclear umbrella.” Article 5 of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States of America stipulates the defense obligations of the U.S. in case of contingencies in areas surrounding Japan.

(Originally published on July 11, 2009)