An anti-nuclear protest in Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 2007 — the anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city by the United States in 1945. (Photo/Xinhua)
The Hong Kong-based Yazhou Zhoukan reports that Japan is secretly developing a nuclear weapons program in anticipation of a potential crisis over the Diaoyutai (Diaoyu or Senkaku) islands in the East China Sea.
Japan is currently the only nation in the world which has a complete nuclear industry. Mitsubishi, Hitachi and Toshiba are the three largest Japanese companies which produce nuclear energy. Under those three corporations, there are an additional 200 smaller firms which possess nuclear fuel or who have the know-how to handle plutonium.
For this reason, Yazhou Zhoukan said Japan has the ability to build its own nuclear bomb if it were to revise its postwar peace constitution. Japan holds a total of 40.7 tonnes of plutonium, including 5.5 tonnes in Japan, 21.6 tonnes in France and 13.6 tonnes in the United Kingdom. The country also accumulates about 3,000 tonnes of nuclear waste in its six disposal facilities located in Aomori prefecture, which surpasses the figure for the United States.
Major General Yoshiaki Yano of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force said in an article written for Japan Military Review magazine that Tokyo should adjust its nuclear policy despite the damage this might do to its relationship with Washington. With the capability to build at least 2,000 nuclear warheads, Japan has recently demanded the United States return 300 kilograms of plutonium. A Japanese military analyst told Yazhou Zhoukan that Washington has paid close attention to the potential development of nuclear weapons in Japan.
The United States recently retrieved 579 kilograms of highly enriched uranium from Japan lent to Japan during the Cold War era for research. With 579 kilograms of highly enriched uranium, Japan would be able to build at least 20 nuclear bombs, according to Yazhou Zhoukan.
The clash between Chinese and Japanese fighters over China's newly established air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea has continued to raise tensions between the two countries. Two Sukhoi Su-30 fighters from the East Sea Fleet of the PLA Navy Air Force were ordered to intercept Japanese Mitsubishi F-15J fighters entering the ADIZ without identifying themselves on the first day of the Chinese New Year holidays on Jan. 31. According to Yazhou Zhoukan, the F-15J fighters of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force were unable to break away from the Chinese fighters during the maneuvers and were eventually forced to return to base.