Ahmad Rashid Malik
Japan has been increasingly becoming a part of the toothless non-nuclear proliferation regime. Ever since the signing of the US-India nuclear deal on May 18, 2005 and resultant developments, Japan has been fast losing its grip over its cardinal principles of anti-nuclearisation adopted after the total devastation of its cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the nuclear bombs dropped by the US on August 6 and 9, 1945.
Notwithstanding that nuclear bombs could vanish the entire humanity and living entities; Japan has decided not to oppose the US-India nuclear deal at a meeting of the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to be held at the end of August.
Moreover, Japan has decided that it would not stand in the way of revising the NSG's guidelines. Japan's intention became clear when the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) held its meeting on Aug 1. Such a move would enable the US to transfer nuclear technology and fuel to India, a non-signatory to the NPT and CTBT, and a country that conducted nuclear tests twice in 1974 and 1998. Both times Japan imposed severe economic sanctions against India in violation of the international nuclear treaties. Interestingly, the NSG was formed in response to India's first nuclear testing conducted in 1974.
So much so, Japan would continue to oppose Pakistan's nuclear programme and would keep levelling its pressure over the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Iran to disband their nuclearisation programmes in order to bring them under the anti-nuclear regime. The biggest impact of the changed Japanese anti-nuclear policy would be the invention of 'discrimination' in its policy for the first time. Hitherto Japan has exercised a complete anti-nuclear indiscrimination particularly toward India, Pakistan, DPRK, and Iran. The most likely fear would be the beginning of the new and deadly nuclear proliferation across the world.
In the ultimate analysis, many fear that Japan would be harping once again on the same string of the Meiji slogan of 'rich nation--strong army' that would not be possible without becoming a nuclear power especially when three of Japan's neighbours (Russia, China, and DPRK) became nuclear powers.
Japan cannot deny the fact that nuclear security has dominated the world politics during the past six decades. It seems that the fact has been accepted by Japan at the latest NSG's meeting. One has to assess whether or not Japan has been inspired to become a nuclear power itself. Some argue that the DPRK's rollback has fired Japan's ambition to become a nuclear power. Others argue that the US-India deal has been inspiring Japan to ultimately become a nuclear power. They say that the changed stance of Japan is to achieve such an end.
Things have been moving differently now in Japan. The voices of Hiroshima and Nagasaki gone unheard by the members sitting in the Diet of the 'anti-nuclearised' and 'demilitarised' Japan. The long-standing anti-nuclear proliferation policy of Japan seems to be buried at the coffin of the US-India nuclear deal by Japan at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, marking the 63rd anniversary of the end of World War II, which totally vanished the humanity at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not to speak of countless number of people killed in other war theatres. The supporters of the 63rd anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, would be dismal and unable to remind the people of the world about their country's principled stand against the use of devastating nuclear arsenals, technology, transfer, material, and cooperation.
With this, the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki should stop marching in the streets as their government and Diet has made the decision to go ahead with the nuclear bombs. (Views expressed in this article are not too early or premature. They are, in fact too late. Here diplomacy of 'wait and see' does not work. We have lost a peaceful Japan). Japan no longer dispels the ominous clouds of nuclearisation as it has joined the Group of Eight (G-8) including Australia and South Africa to provide exemption to India for the supply of nuclear technology, material, and fuel without the signing of the NPT. It is not more than a diplomatic lip service when Japanese Foreign Minister, Masahiko Koumura, stated in New Delhi the other day that "Tokyo wants to confirm that the pact would not undermine nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts". Not only the US-India nuclear agreement, Japan's own stance toward the issue has already undermined non-nuclear efforts.
Japan's discriminatory nuclear move has an economic dimension. Japan is desperately looking for a lucrative nuclear deal with India. The country intends to deepen its economic ties with India's burgeoning economy, as a possible tool to contain, with the help of the US, the economic and military rise of China. Japan's suspicions against Pakistan's nuclear programme in the 1990s and tying up of its aid, loans, and technical cooperation policy with Pakistan's nuclear programme and ultimate economic sanctions during 1998-2005, badly damaged Pakistan's economy. It was only after May 2005, following the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi that economic sanctions were fully removed. Simultaneously, the same gesture was extended to India.
Besides Pakistan, the economies and trade of the DPRK and Iran have also long suffered because of the measures taken by Japan over the past several years. Therefore, the upcoming Japan's discriminatory nuclear policy would be making a clear division that would be reflected upon its military and political ties and economic relationships with these countries in the years to come. Japan would not only lose its grip over influencing Pakistan to follow non-nuclear proliferation policy, the on-going DPRK's nuclear roll-back programme would be affected in one or the other way.
Moreover, Japan would face with more hard-hitting divisions in already troubled relations with the DPRK and China in North-East Asia coupled with similar setbacks to its relations with countries in South and West Asia. For Japan itself, it might be the end of its demilitarisation and Seiki Bunri (separation of politics and economy), a catchy post-war slogan that helped Japan to comeback to Asia, mend its bitter ties, normalise its relations, and beef up its economy. The slogan has to do a lot with Japan's acquiring the status of an economic superpower.
However, many fear that Japan's discriminatory nuclear proliferation policy might run counter to its economic might and interests. The net beneficiary would be India. And it would be hard for Japan to contain the rise of China as the former miserably failed to contain the latter in the 1950s and 1960s. Putting aside the Seiki Bunri slogan, one of Japan's leading multinational, Toshiba Corporation, would be few of those world's companies that is going to supply India with nuclear technology and its parts. Let's not forget that economic and merchandise interests took over nuclear non-proliferation principles and policy thinking in Japan. One has to see how such moves would ensure global peace?
This article was first published in The Nation (Pakistan)/Asia News Network.
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