Japan must develop nuclear weapons, warns Tokyo governor

Tokyo's outspoken Governor says his country, which suffered history's only nuclear attack, should build nuclear weapons to counter the threat from fast-rising China.

In an interview with The Independent, Shintaro Ishihara said Japan could develop nuclear weapons within a year and send a strong message to the world.

"All our enemies: China, North Korea and Russia – all close neighbours – have nuclear weapons. Is there another country in the world in a similar situation?

"People talk about the cost and other things but the fact is that diplomatic bargaining power means nuclear weapons. All the [permanent] members of the [United Nations] Security Council have them."

The comments from the leader of Japan's second-most powerful political office come amid concerns about China's growing military muscle.

Beijing announced last week that its 2011 defence budget will be hiked by 12.7 per cent to 601.1bn yuan (£56.2bn) up from 532.1bn yuan last year. Most experts say that those figures are an underestimate.

China officially overtook Japan as the world's second largest economy last month. Despite booming bilateral trade, the relationship has regularly been shaken by disputes over territorial and historical issues. Ties are still struggling to recover from a maritime clash last year over the Senkaku Islands, which are owned by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing.

Mr Ishihara said the clash, which ended when police released the captain of a Chinese ship accused of ramming Japan's coastguard vessels, had exposed his country's weakness in Asia. "China wouldn't have dared lay a hand on the Senkakus [if Japan had nuclear weapons]."

The right-wing Governor added that a nuclear-armed Japan would also win more respect from Russia, which seized four Japanese-owned islands during the Second World War. And he advised his constitutionally pacifist nation to scrap restrictions on the manufacture and sale of weapons. "We should develop sophisticated weapons and sell them abroad. Japan made the best fighters in the world before America crushed the industry. We could get that back."

Conservatives have long demanded that Tokyo ditch its postwar constitution, which was written during the American occupation of the country and renounces war as a sovereign right.

Japan's so-called non-nuclear principles, produced during the time of Prime Minister Eisaku Sato in 1964-72, later committed the country to never produce, possess or allow the entry of nuclear weapons. The principles were partly a response to popular revulsion over the deaths of more than quarter of a million mostly civilians in the 1945 US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Mr Ishihara claimed that Mr Sato, who won the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize for his opposition to plans for a nuclear weapons programme, was at the same time secretly approaching the US for help in developing an atomic bomb.

"If the Sato administration had unilaterally developed nuclear weapons then, for a start North Korea wouldn't have taken so many of our citizens," said the Governor, referring to Pyongyang's abduction of an unknown number of Japanese people.

Mr Ishihara is expected to step down this year after 12 years governing the city of 13 million people. He once called gay people "abnormal" and elderly women who can't have babies "useless". His right-wing politics and persistent warnings about the rise of China have earned him the sobriquet "Japan's Jean-Marie Le Pen".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect