Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press


and working to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

system, should study the nuclear issue to be prepared in the

event of tremendous future change in the international situation.”

Nakasone, when questioned by the press on the report,

noted that Japan was currently dependent on US nuclear weapons

but that it was uncertain whether US willingness to provide

nuclear-related guarantees would continue.

Following the North Korean nuclear test, Japanese officials

conducted an internal review of national security needs. One

Japanese press report stated that senior defense ministry officials

and military experts generally agreed on the following three

principles to guide Japan’s actions: (1) reinforce the US nuclear

and conventional deterrent capability; (2) install missile defense

systems in Japan; and (3) possess the capability to attack military

bases of an enemy country. The report asserted that “to

better ensure the US nuclear arsenal achieves its desired deterrent

effect, a clear manifestation of such US intent would have

an important meaning.” The same article also reported that

“Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma spoke in no uncertain terms

about strengthening the deterrence of US nuclear weapons. The

strongest deterrence would be when the United States explicitly

says ‘If you drop one nuclear bomb on Japan, the United States

will retaliate by dropping 10 on you,’ he said.” 5

The Nakasone report and related comments created a stir

worldwide. Within a short time, Japanese officials had walked

back the comments to reassure others that Japan was not on

the brink of a nuclear decision. One analysis of the situation

concluded that “neither an increasing security threat nor a

fundamental shift in US policy alone will be sufficient to trigger

a Japanese nuclear breakout. But the combination of these

two factors could drive Japanese domestic shifts and weaken

Japan’s non-nuclear norm enough so that Japan would adopt

a different strategic posture.” 6

In the immediate wake of the North Korean nuclear test and

the atmosphere of insecurity that followed, US officials traveled

to Tokyo and reaffirmed their continued support for security

commitments to the Northeast Asian allies. A few months later,

the following joint statement was issued at the conclusion of the

1 May 2007 US-Japan Security Consultative Committee meeting

attended by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary


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