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Japan's dangerous obsession

Updated: 2014-02-20 07:44
( China Daily)

If a country claims that it sticks by non-nuclear principles but at same time hoards far more nuclear materials than it needs, including a massive amount of weapons-grade plutonium, the world has good reason to ask why, says a Xinhua commentary.

Outlined by Prime Minister Eisaku Sato in a speech to the House of Representatives in 1967, the three non-nuclear principles, an important part of Japan's peaceful post-war development, state that Japan will not produce, possess or allow the entry into its territory of nuclear weapons.

However, since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office a year ago, Japan's right-wing conservatives have often been heard clamoring for nuclear weapons.

As a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Japan should adhere to its international obligations. As the world's only victim of nuclear attacks, it should know the horrible consequences of nuclear proliferation.

However, five decades are not long enough for the island country, where some politicians openly or privately wish for nuclear arms, to return the 331 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium received from the United States during the Cold War.

With this hoard, some Japanese experts have said that their country is capable of developing nuclear missiles within half a year.

Adding to the world's concern, Japan is also reportedly hoarding more than 1.2 tons of enriched uranium and another 44 tons of plutonium, which overwhelmingly dwarf its civilian demands.

The ecological and environmental catastrophe of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011 should have sent the message that the superabundant nuclear materials are actually time bombs for a seismically active country like Japan.

What's more, storing more than necessary nuclear materials is also against the regulations of the nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which requires countries to keep a balance between the demand and supply of nuclear materials.

This obsessive possession of nuclear materials is not the behavior of a responsible and reliable country, as Japan wishes to portray itself to the international community.

And it brings nothing but doubt and suspicion to the already volatile East Asia.

The Japanese government truly should honestly explain its reluctance to return the stored nuclear materials as soon as possible. After all, Abe and his cabinet have already caused too much trouble to regional peace and stability.

(China Daily 02/20/2014 page8)