East Asia Nuclear Policy Project
Morton H. Halperin, The Nuclear Dimension of the U.S.-Japan Alliance

Commentary by Mitsuru Kurosawa


The following comments are by Mitsuru Kurosawa, Professor of International Law and International Relations, Osaka School of International Public Policy.

"The Nuclear Dimension of the U.S.-Japan Alliance" by Mr. Morton H. Halperin contains excellent analysis and proposals on U.S. nuclear policy as well as Japanese nuclear policy. As it deals directly with Japanese nuclear issues and contains useful and convincing suggestions, it should be read by as many Japanese experts as possible.

I agree with his analysis on the conditions that might lead Japan to develop nuclear weapons; a lack of U.S. security credibility, Korean nuclear capability, and a lack of progress in nuclear disarmament.

In this context, he seems to recommend a U.S. policy of stigmatizing nuclear weapons. His argument for no-first use of nuclear weapons is highly appreciated. He emphasizes many times that the only utility of nuclear weapons should be to deter an attack by nuclear weapons, either against the United States or against an allied state. He also recommends responding by conventional weapons against biological and chemical weapons, which would be a clear guidance for the U.S. Government.

His suggestion that the response to a nuclear attack on any state would be viewed in the future as the responsibility of the international society as a whole must be taken into account when we discuss a deep reduction or elimination of nuclear weapons.

On Japanese nuclear options, he said, "Japan has a peaceful nuclear power program that generates weapons-grade plutonium." This analysis is not correct. Japan is now generating not weapons-grade but reactor-grade plutonium, which could be used for a nuclear explosion, although it is less suitable for that than weapons-grade plutonium. Existing stocks of plutonium are also processed under effective international IAEA safeguards.

His recommendation for a cooperative security scenario for the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia is agreeable to me as the best way to deal with security issues in this area. However, I can not accept all of the details of his idea. A unified, democratic and denuclearized Korea is a commonly accepted goal and should be pursued.

I have some doubts whether his idea that the 1954 U.S.-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty be continued and applied to the entire country and that U.S. troops in Korea be maintained after unification will be acceptable to China and Russia. How is the United States going to give satisfaction to them?

I completely agree with his opinion that a Northeast Asia nuclear weapons free zone including the Korean Peninsula and Japan should be established. His suggestion, "if the United States took the lead in suggesting a Northeast Asian nuclear free zone, Japan would not find it possible to resist", is very interesting and should be pursued, because Japan is reluctant to take a lead on this issue as it is afraid of U.S. opposition. The measure could be taken even before the reunification of Korea.

A Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Organization is worth discussing more seriously because current bilateral diplomacy in this area can not cope well enough with security issues in the 21 century.

Go to next commentary


Global Peace and Security Program Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network DPRK Renewable Energy Project Nuclear Policy Project Non-Nuclear NATO Network Related Nautilus Projects NAPSNet Daily Report NAPSNet Special Reports NATO Flash Nuclear Policy Update South Asia Nuclear Dialogue Nautilus Institute Publications Policy Forum Online Signup for Nautilus Email Services Nautilus Research Kiosk Send Feedback Global Peace and Security Program Staff Nautilus Institute Home Energy, Security and Environment Globalization and Governance Youth/Pegasus Program Digital Library Search the Nautilus Site