Do the Japanese have nukes?

I have no doubt that the Japanese have the technological skill and the money to have nuclear weapons if they so wished. If Pakistan can manage this then it should be childs play for a country such as Japan.

On the one hand I can see how any country (especially Japan considering its wealth and importance in the world) would want nuclear weapons. Not to start a war so much as to tell any potential invader that attacking them is a REALLY bad idea.

In the other hand the Japanese have the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world to have nuclear weapons used against it. I believe the national psyche has a feeling of ‘nukes are VERY bad’ and that the general populace would be really upset to find that their country possessed such weapons.

Any ideas anyone? I’m not asking for any real reason (not the sinking of their fishing boat). Just curious.

Oh yeah…one other possibility I can think of:

Japan doesn’t have a nuclear bomb assembled but they have all of the pieces to build one very fast. You know…some plutonium over at that university for research. A rocket in a silo somewhere else used for space research. Some highly accurate explosives for ‘demolition’ work. And so on…

In this fashion they can walk around and say, “Nope…no nuclear weapons here.” But, in a pinch, they could whip one together in short order (a day or two). No good to discourage a preemptive nuclear strike against them (that’s what the US is for) but certainly enough to keep a foreign army thinking twice before they invade.

The Japanese constitution explicitly forbids the country from developing or possessing nuclear weapons. I doubt that anyone other than some extreme super patriots in Japan would want such devices.

Techincally Japan doesn’t even have a standing army, just a “Self-Defense Force”.

While the Japanese are only allowed a ‘Self Defense Force’ from everything I’ve heard the SDF is quite a bit more. They have exceedingly expensive, state-of-the-art toys to play with and could easily be considered an army in its own right.

About the only thing that really distinguishes them from other armies is that they absolutley will not go anywhere but their immediate territorial boundaires (same goes for Germany which is why I believe both Germany and Japan do not participate in things like the Gulf War although they give other, non-military aid). I’m not even sure if Japanese troops are allowed to participate with UN peacekeeping missions. Still, don’t let semantics fool you. The Japanes SDF is quite powerful and could probably stop all but the most concerted effort by the US, Russia or China.

As to their Constitution forbidding nukes I had forgotten that. Still, it isn’t exactly unheard of for governments to conveniently ignore aspects of legal documents they find inconvenient (such as Hitler ignored the armistice agreement from WWI when he re-built Germaniy’s army).

Basically I’m wondering if there is a consensus on whether they are likely to have one even if they don’t admit it such as Israel (which has never declared possessing nukes but who nearly everyone believes has one anyway).

Although Japan may, as you suggest, have the capability to assemble nuclear arms quickly, nuclear weaponry has been enormously controversial. Serious diplomatic incidents have arisen between the U.S. and Japan over the stationing of nuclear-armed air and naval forces at U.S. bases in Okinawa and on mainland Japan. Some of it arises from a suspicion of, and feeling of lack of input over, the bases themselves, but a lot of it is fundamentally anti-nuclear and anti-war.

Interestingly, the one part of the largely U.S.-written Japanese Constitution that ordinary Japanese people seem to have taken to have taken genuinely and profoundly to heart is the renunciation of war. Huge controversies erupt when the Japanese government seems to be pressing for weapons systems with “too much” offensive capacity. Many ordinary Japanese people I knew saw nuclear weapons as inherently “offensive” in character, with no defensive use and therefore Constitutionally forbidden.

That said, Japan also relies fairly extensively on nuclear power for its electricity needs, particularly since it completely lacks domestic fossil fuel sources and has dammed up just about every river available. A recent Three-Mile-Island-like catastrophe (IIRC it killed at least a couple of plant workers) has led to a great questioning of even this, peaceful program, but I think people also acknowledge that there aren’t too many alternatives.

A small point: this link, published by Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, provides a full translation of the Japanese constitution. The relevant section prohibits war, not nuclear or atomic weapons per se.

Also, since about 1990 Japan has participated, to a limited degree, in UN operations in Cambodia. They may also have participated in other operations in the Pacific Basin (East Timor, maybe?) but I’m not sure. Again, it’s highly controversial for much the same reasons that Germany’s participation in the Balkans forces has been.

It’s true that the SDF is quite powerful, but the political situation in Japan still enforces serious limitations on Japan’s ability to use that power.

someone please clarify

nukes are thermonuclear devices - what was used against Japan was (2) atomic bombs. Does the constution of Japan forbid thermonuclear devices - I don’t think they were invented at that time. It is true that a nuke usally requires a atomic bomb to get things hoppin’ but IIRC conventional explosives can also cause detonation - just you need a lot more of them.

IIRC, the only countries with nuke weapons are the U.S., Russia, Britian, France, India, & Pakistan. I think China & North Korea are close.

Yeah, like several hundreds of tons of TNT.

A bomb the size of a large building? Not likely, even if you could correctly time the initation (rather unlikely, but theoretically posible).

A Fission reaction is initiated by high explosive smashing the fissile material into critical mass. This must happen with extrodinary precision, as if if doesn’t, all you get is hot melting material, instead of a bomb. The fission device creates the heat and pressure necessary for a Fusion reaction, which is why the ‘H’ bomb is a thermo-nuclear device.

Don’t split hairs: If it’s an H-Bomb, it’s still a nuke. The Japanese have an innate horror of those beasts. Any government in Japan being found out even creating / buying the components to assemble a nuke would be out of power so fast, your head would spin.

I assume that you are refering to the Tokaimura incident on September 30,1999. The Three Mile Island (TMI) incident was far different than the Tokaimura incident. At TMI it was a mixture of equipment failure, human error, and some bad luck that caused a serious loss-of-coolant reactor malfunction. At Tokaimura the workers were processing nearly seven times the design limit of uranium leading to a criticality incident.

On Japanese nuclear wepons:
Tom Clancy wrote a recent novel on Japanese aggression. In his world a group of businessmen build the nukes. Clancy has been wandering farther and farther off the beliveability path lately.

The terms “nuclear bomb” (colloquially “nuke”) and “atomic bomb” are synonymous: They’re bombs based on reactions involving the nuclei of atoms. A thermonuclear bomb is a fusion bomb specifically (H-bomb). Sure, the Big Boys might not bother much with non-thermo nukes anymore (why bother making a little bang when you can make a big one), but either way, a nuke’s a nuke.

Clarifying away…

From the American Heritage Dictionary : nuke = “a nuclear device or weapon” = nuclear weapon = “A device, such as a bomb or warhead, whose great explosive power derives from the release of nuclear energy” = nuclear energy = “The energy released by a nuclear reaction, especially by fission or fusion…Also called atomic energy.” (emphasis added)

The Big Five declared nuclear powers since the 1960’s were the United States, Soviet Union/Russia, Britain, France, and the People’s Republic of China (perhaps not entirely coincidentally also the five permanent or veto members of the U.N. Security Council). India and Pakistan have just joined the club (although India had detonated an atomic bomb back in the '70’s for “peaceful purposes”–that Bombay to Calcutta Sea-Level Canal Project, I guess–it hadn’t actually kept any bombs around until the latest little South Asian my-bomb-is-bigger-than-yours nuclear testing spat). Israel is universally known to have nuclear weapons, but isn’t a “declared” power and officially says “Nuclear weapons? Who, us? We’re shocked–shocked–you could suggest such a thing”, or something like that. I believe it turned out apartheid South Africa had but later dismantled atomic weapons–God knows what they ever wanted them for; atom bombs are really not a great weapon for a civil war where the enemy lives in the next segregated township over. North Korea may well have/have had a bomb, but they’ve promised to play nice and cut it out, and if you can’t trust a country with a dead guy as Eternal President, who can you trust? We all know about Saddam, of course–Iran is also widely suspected of pining for nukes. I believe a couple of Latin American powers–Argentina and Brazil–toyed with the idea of nukes for a while there, but I don’t think there are any active programs south of the Rio Grande now that the juntas have been disbanded. I think independent Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan had nuclear weapons on their territory for a short period after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but I don’t think they were ever under the control of those republics, and they were all turned back over to Russia in short order.

Dammit, I just hate it when someone who knows what the hell they’re talking about barges into a conversation! :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks for the info. In all seriousness, I should’ve been clearer (on this board especially) that by “TMI-like” I was referring to the social and political effects of the accident, not to the technical causes, about which I knew … nothing, until now.

It’s interesting, I think the average Japanese may have implicitly trusted (a) government and (b) technicians more than Americans ever did, and yet that trust seems to have collapsed even further than it did here. From what you describe at Tokaimura, it’s probably justified.

So if nuclear weapons are not banned per se by the Japanese constitution isn’t Japan a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty? I would think that would also pretty much put the kibosh on any Japanese atomic bomb plans.

Geopolitics would also come into play as China would not be too happy to see Japan with nukes. I imagine that the U.S. might get a bit peeved. Russia as well.

And since that Japan is trying to get a permanent seat on the Security Council, the Japanese are going to keep their noses clean.

The United States protects Japan on the condition that japan have no military force, thus no biggie weapons. I sure they could make one if they wanted to.

Tiawan is thought to have nukes or the ability to get them ASAP.

Most of the West European nations as well as Canada wouldn’t have too much problems building nukes if they wanted to.

No it doesn’t. There is no mention whatsoever in the Japanese Constitution of atomic weapons, or any other specific weapons.

I believe you have misunderstood Article 9, “Renunciation of War.” It does not specifically prohibit nuclear weapons, but renounces the use of offensive force (according to current interpretation).

However, authoritative reports that I have read indicate that Japan could produce at least one nuclear weapon within 15 to 20 days. They have sufficient weapons-grade material, and I guarantee they have fully developed construction plans just sitting around in case they want to build it. There is some suspicion that Japan was involved with South Africa in developing and testing a primitive “atomic gun” weapon.

You might want to read Chronology For The Origin Of Atomic Weapons @

AKA Nuclear weapons FAQ:

Isn’t Australia a nuclear power?

I believe the U.K. tested its first atomic bombs in Australia (Great Britain being a bit small and crowded for that sort of thing), but Australia doesn’t have any bombs of its own. It’s an advanced, industrialized nation, and practically any of the advanced industrialized nations–Canada, Belgium, Sweden, you name it–could probably whip up a nuclear weapon in fairly short order, at least as far as the technical details go (political, constitutional, and cultural problems might be thornier).