Threat May Push Japan To Develop Its Own Weapon
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
TOKYO — Japan, with perhaps most to fear from North Korea, may be pushed further along the road toward militarization, analysts believe — and before long, toward an atomic weapon of its own.
North Korea’s announcement was greeted with alarm and anger in Japan. Prime Minister Abe said “a nuclear North Korea can never be acceptable.”
He appealed to the United Nations to be “undaunted,” saying: “We need to make a stern response, and North Korea will be responsible for all the consequences.”
Japan has viewed developments in Pyongyang with growing fear since a test missile was launched over its airspace in 1998, landing in the Pacific. It is acutely aware that Tokyo lies well within the range of North Korean missiles and that Japan is as much the target of Pyongyang’s angry rhetoric as America is.
Mr. Abe’s popularity and his election to the leadership last month are largely attributed to his tough stance toward North Korea. Now, the stage appears to be set for him to loosen the constraints on the military and to revise the declaration of pacifism in the Japanese constitution.
As the only nation ever to have suffered a nuclear attack, Japan for decades considered it taboo even to discuss becoming a nuclear power. But the idea has gained currency as North Korea’s nuclear ambitions have loomed larger.