[This guest post was submitted by Hisanori Hirata - an editor and security specialist.]

From February 15th to 17th, Sankei Shimbun, one of Japanese five national newspapers, ran a sensational serialization entitled “The Age of Nuclear Domino.” The front page on 15th displayed the results of a survey on Japan’s security issues. It summarized in the article in the first paragraph:

In Feb 12-13, Sankei Shimbun Co.,Ltd carried out an opinion poll on issues of Japan’s politics and security policies. 86.7% “agree” that the government or Diet should start discussing nuclear weapons, while only 8.5% “disagree.”. 84.1 % of respondents are anxious about the present situation of nuclear weapons in North East Asia. Answering a question on desirable defense systems for Japan, 10.2 % support an “independent defense with its own nuclear weapons.” Although an argument on nuclear weapons has been taboo in Japan, the time has come for Japanese to discuss the issue.


The article also shows other results. For instance, 54.9 % answered “the US nuclear umbrella is reliable,” while 32.6 % chose to label it “unreliable.” 39.0 % say, “the Three Non-Nuclear Principles should be reviewed.” 35.6 % claim “Japan’s security cannot be maintained without its own nuclear weapons.”

In final article, the failed plan to introduce nuclear submarines in 2005 was revealed with comments from high-ranking officials of the Defense Agency at the time.

The revealed facts and polls themselves are not so surprising. Yet such articles allow the silent to realize that they might no longer be in the minority. It gives them confidence in their opinion. Though the trend significantly raises leftist concerns, it undoubtedly mitigates the sense of guilt caused by talking nuclear armament, or the nuclear taboo, which has been shared among Japanese since the tragedy in Hiroshima.

One more point. There was a slight change in Sankei’s serialization. Whereas Sankei is famously known for being hawkish, alongside the largest newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, especially since the September 11, it has always emphasized the importance of the Japan-US alliance against those who press for independence. As it watches the Japanese public downgrading their credibility toward the United States, Sankei may shift its position from Japan-US Alliance absolutism to become a self-defense supporter.

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A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan. His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch