Japan considered developing its own nuclear weapons programme in the 1950s, according to newly declassified US documents, but apparently dropped the plan when the government realised it would meet strong opposition so soon after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Douglas MacArthur, the US ambassador to Tokyo, told visiting officials from the state and defence departments in 1958 that the Japanese prime minister had stated it was “essential” that Japan had its own nuclear weapons.
Nobusuke Kishi said Japan required a “defensive” nuclear capability to protect the nation from the Soviet Union as the Cold War raged.
Mr Kishi also reportedly argued the constitution “did not prohibit Japan from having any kind of weapons”.
Japan did not formally adopt its three non-nuclear principles of not possessing or manufacturing atomic weapons, as well as not permitting their introduction into Japanese territory, until the 1960s, but Mr Kishi’s proposal is still surprising given the country’s experiences in the final days of World War II.
An estimated 80,000 people died in the initial blast of the “Little Boy” bomb above Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, with a similar number dying in the following four months as a result of the blast or the radiation. Some 80,000 people died after the “Fat Man” weapon was dropped on Nagasaki three days later.
Continue reading at Japan’s post-war nuclear ambitions revealed in newly declassified documents