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Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012

Hashimoto stuns 'addled' nuke foes


Staff writer

OSAKA — Hiroshima municipal officials and the Japan Congress Against A and H Bombs (Gensuikin) were mum Monday over Saturday's comment by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto calling for a reality check on the nation's three nonnuclear principles.

The two sides said they have no plans to issue an official comment against Hashimoto's remark because of his low official status compared with prominent Diet members.

During a stop in Hiroshima on Saturday to drum up support for the party he heads, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), Hashimoto said that while he would stick to the basics of the three nonnuclear principles, he questioned if it was really possible to prevent nuclear weapons from being brought into Japan.

The remark apparently reflects Hashimoto's long-held personal belief that Japan should possess atomic weapons.

"The U.S. 7th Fleet is guarding the Pacific from its base in Japan. It's impossible (for them) not to have nuclear weapons. So it's possible to bring them in, isn't it? If it's necessary to do so, then the understanding of the people should be sought," Hashimoto told reporters, indicating he wants to rethink the three principles of Japan not making, possessing or allowing entry of nuclear arms.

It has been revealed that U.S. ships during the Cold War carried nuclear arms when they visited the nation's ports, as Tokyo and Washington had a secret agreement that tacitly allowed this. There was often local opposition to U.S. warship port calls, apparently due to suspicions about such weapons.

In 1991, the U.S. adopted a general policy of not deploying nuclear weapons aboard surface ships, attack submarines and naval aircraft. In 1994, it was decided that surface ships and aircraft carriers should no longer carry nuclear weapons, but attack submarines would continue to train and plan missions with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.

However, U.S. policy is to neither confirm nor deny the presence or absence of nuclear weapons on specific ships, submarines or aircraft.

Hashimoto was also dismissive about the possibility of banning nuclear weapons entirely.

"As an idealistic argument, a world without nuclear weapons is good. However, international society is not like that. No matter how much Japan professes to have put distance between itself and nuclear weapons with the three nonnuclear principles, America has nuclear weapons, and nuclear submarines are protecting the Pacific region, including Japan," Hashimoto said.

"The reality is that it's impossible (to abolish nuclear weapons). In international politics today, Japan is a bit peace-addled."

Revision of the nonnuclear principles has long been backed by many officials in the U.S. government, and especially America's defense industry, as well as conservative and nationalistic — but pro-U.S. alliance — Japanese politicians and business leaders.



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