Japan’s national security strategy: Why if Japan goes nuclear, India should welcome the decision

Source– The post is based on the article “Japan’s national security strategy: Why if Japan goes nuclear, India should welcome the decision” published in The Indian Express on 11th January 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Effects of policies of developed and developing countries on India interests

Relevance– India and Japan defence relationship

News– The article explains the recent National Security Strategy doctrine releases by Japan

What are the main points of recent National Security Strategy doctrine releases by Japan?

Chinese military power is growing exponentially. In less than a decade, the Chinese nuclear arsenal would match the US and Russia. Expectations are low that the US would have the will or the capacity to bring China to the arms control table.

North Korea is continuing with its nuclear proliferation programme. It is perhaps now unstoppable. Ballistic missile tests by it have violated Japanese airspace. The mood in South Korea is slowly turning in favour of its own nuclearisation.

Extended deterrence including nuclear weapons is the cornerstone of the US-Japan alliance. It allowed Japan to not have its own nuclear arsenal. Now it is no longer possible to continue with it due to the rising Chinese threat. Japan is worried about the future adequacy of its alliance with the USA.

It calls for Japan to strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of its alliance with the US. It includes extended deterrence by the US that is backed by its full range of capabilities, including nuclear.

It adds that Japan would strengthen its defence capabilities to take “primary responsibility” for its defence, without excluding support from the US. It will develop autonomous capabilities through a sustained military build-up, and procure deep strike weapons. These are the green shoots of strategic autonomy.

It will invest in the Indo-Pacific and the Quad.

What can be inferred from this national security strategy by Japan?

The unstated part is the possibility of nuclear-sharing by Japan. If implemented, this may be new to Asia. But, it is a long-standing US practice with its key NATO allies in Europe.

The second unstated option is the possibility of Japan itself acquiring nuclear weapons. The document makes no reference to this. But there are references to the US finding it increasingly difficult to maintain a free and open international order.

Why should India welcome the Japanese inclination for nuclear weapons?

India and Japan privileged nuclear disarmament as a priority. Their ways are separate. But there comes a time when this priority must be subordinated to the demands of national security.

India reached this conclusion reluctantly in 1998. If Japan reaches the same conclusion, it too would have a good reason due to increasing Chinese and North Korean threat. It has technological capabilities for that.

A multipolar Indo-Pacific can be truly multipolar only if Japan is assured of national self-defence.

As a strategic partner and friend, India should respect the decision of Japan.


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