Japan's constitution allows it to possess nuclear weapons as
long as they are kept to a minimum level necessary for
self-defence, although the country has no intention of holding such
arms, the government said in a statement Tuesday.
The statement, written in response to a question from an
independent lawmaker, comes amid controversy over whether the
country should debate holding nuclear arms an emotive issue in the
only nation to have suffered nuclear attacks.
"From a purely legal standpoint, even Article Nine of the
constitution does not bar our country from possessing minimum
capabilities necessary for self-defence," the statement said,
repeating a position the government has made clear in past
"Even with nuclear weapons, we've understood that possessing
them would not necessarily violate the constitution as long as it
is kept within such limits," it said.
But the statement said Japan would stick to its self-imposed
"three non-nuclear principles" banning the possession, production
and import of nuclear arms and that the government had no plans to
debate a change in that stance.
It also said that Japan's basic law on atomic energy limits
research, development and use of such power to peaceful purposes,
while the country is bound under the nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty not to receive or manufacture nuclear weapons.
Controversy over debate on nuclear arms erupted last month when
Shoichi Nakagawa, the policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic
Party, said Japan should discuss if it should acquire nuclear
weapons after Pyongyang conducted a nuclear test.
Foreign Minister Taro Aso has also said debate should not be
ruled out, prompting opposition lawmakers to call for his
Four opposition parties called on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to
fire Aso for the second time in a week Tuesday, demanding that he
respond in writing by today.
(China Daily November 15, 2006)