Tokyo: Amid heightened tension on the Korean
peninsula, Japan has tacitly acknowledged that it had
discussed the possibility of going nuclear with West Germany
in 1969 despite its declaration of opposing the production,
possession and presence of atomic weapons on its soil.
After examining diplomatic papers from West Germany, the
Japanese Foreign Ministry said in a report released this week
that its diplomats had met counterparts from West Germany in
the resort town of Hakone, west of Tokyo, on February 4 to 5
in 1969 and hinted at possessing nuclear arms, besides seeking
support from the European country, Kyodo news agency reported.
The Japanese ministry also questioned Egon Bahr, who was
then head of the German Foreign Ministry`s policy planning
office and attended the meeting in 1969. Bahr said he had
heard Japanese officials making a statement during the meeting
suggesting Japan may move to possess nuclear weapons.
Citing the documents from West Germany, the report said a
Foreign Ministry official, who headed the Japanese delegation,
told West Germany it is possible for Japan to create nuclear
weapons in the event a threat occurs on the Korean Peninsula
and that Japan and West Germany should cooperate to be free
from the United States.
The report indicates that thorough discussions were made
on whether Japan should possess nuclear arms among members of
the government ahead of its signing in 1970 of the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
Japan also declared for the first time in 1967 what are
now called the "three non-nuclear principles" of not
producing, not possessing and not allowing the entry of
nuclear weapons into the country, and a resolution to abide by
them was adopted at the Japanese Parliament Diet in 1971.
The ministry released the report and documents concerned
as Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara ordered it on October 4 to
look into a TV programme aired the previous day by Japanese
public broadcaster NHK.
Quoting a former senior foreign ministry official, NHK
had reported that in the 1969 meeting, Japan explained to West
Germany that it may have to consider possessing nuclear
weapons within 10 to 15 years and that it had a technology to
extract atomic materials to create nuclear warheads.
The ministry said in the report that Japanese diplomatic
papers it looked at failed to confirm that Japanese officials
made any remarks to that extent. But based on the West German
papers and statements by Bahr, the report concluded that some
passages coincide with the NHK report and that the ministry
cannot completely rule out the possibility that Japanese
officials made some of the remarks.
According to documents Bahr submitted to Willy Brandt,
then German foreign minister, Japan was then predicting that
it might be put in abnormal circumstances within 10 to 15
years after the signing of the NPT, for example, if the US
were to deal with China on nuclear weapons.