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Why China Is Worried About Japan's Plutonium Stocks 398

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the mox-not-bombs dept.
Lasrick (2629253) writes A fascinating account of why China is so worried about Japan's excessive plutonium stocks: combined with its highly sophisticated missile program, "Chinese nuclear-weapons specialists emphasize that Japan has everything technically needed to make nuclear weapons." It turns out that Japan has under-reported a sizable amount of plutonium, and there have been increasing signs that the country might be moving toward re-militarization. This is a particularly worrying read about nuclear tensions in Asia.
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Why China Is Worried About Japan's Plutonium Stocks

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  • Re:Serously? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:37PM (#47264371) Homepage

    It's pretty widely believed that Japan essentially *has* nuclear weapons. But by not completing the final assembly of the warheads, they don't violate the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. Estimates on how much time it would take to assemble the warheads should they decide to violate that treaty range from hours to months.

  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:48PM (#47264481)

    "Living History". Japan invaders were thrown out of China some *75 years ago*. Not too many people left who have personal memories of it, any more.

  • by Aighearach (97333) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:48PM (#47264483) Homepage

    Yeah, this seems a bit silly.

    Japan is already protected by the US nuclear program, so nothing really changes. But Japan has long had a policy of being "ready" for quick weaponization if needed. And it was already the case that the US position is generally that Japan has served their probation and can change their Constitution whenever they're ready to pick up their own defense bill. Recent regional provocation by China only strengthens that.

    If China is so "concerned," maybe they should only claim legal maritime borders according to internationally agreed formulas, instead of trying to claim the whole Champa Sea.

    They can pretty much guarantee that their provocative stance will increase the militarization of their neighbors. It could destroy the WTO, too, since they're members now. If they push too far, sanctions against them might prove very popular in the US because of the effect it would have on US manufacturing. The only way to avoid these consequences is not antagonize their neighbors.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:55PM (#47264533) Homepage

    Of course it's FUD.

    Because, don't forget, China is rattling their sabre at Vietnam, the Phillippines, and Japan ... possibly others.

    China merely doesn't want them to have the capability because it means they'd have a much harder time bullying Japan over things like the Senkaku islands.

    Exactly. For China to be saying this is mostly just trying to mask the crap they're pulling and make it sound like they're only defending themselves, when what they're actually doing is a land grab.

    When they issue public statements, one does wonder if they believe these things, or just figure they might as well say something to make it sound good.

  • by Aighearach (97333) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:55PM (#47264537) Homepage

    While true, if you look at Japanese and Chinese history, the Chinese did the vast majority of the invading-and-pillaging. That gives additional context for the current illegal claims that China is making over Japanese, Vietnamese, Philippine, and others' territory.

  • Re:Serously? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:10PM (#47264691) Journal

    Oh come on. The Japan of 2014 is not the Japan of 1945. Virtually everyone from that generation is dead or beyond any political influence. I have some issues with Japan over its acceptance of some its activities during its empire days, but all in all, it has been a well behaved member of the international community and one of the West's most important Asian allies. I doubt it even wants to have nuclear weapons, but considering the way China has been behaving of late, any prudent Japanese government is going to want to make it clear that it's lack of nuclear deterrent is due to the decision not to have one, and not because of any technical difficulties.

    China cannot continue to poke its neighbors with sticks and not expect that those neighbors will not begin to ponder just how much longer they're going to be poked. Japan is a major industrial power, one of the wealthiest and most advanced nations on the planet, and if China doesn't want to feel threatened by Japan, then it needs to stop pushing buttons itself.

  • Re:Serously? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by barc0001 (173002) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:52PM (#47265087)

    Japan was not "tapped out". It's well documented that their backs were against the wall and they were prepared to throw the bodies of every last fighting man, woman and child into the expected land invasion by the allies, and it would have been a horrific bloody mess. So many casualties were anticipated from the planned allied invasion that the US started pumping out Purple Heart medals in advance of the action and so many were manufactured that those same medals are still being awarded today.

    Hell, even AFTER the nukes were dropped some of the more rabid Japanese commanders still wanted to continue the fight and nearly mutinied. If the bombs hadn't been dropped to show overwhelming tactical advantage, their collective spirit wouldn't have broken, and the deaths, casualties and mass suicides during the Okinawa invasion would have been repeated on a far larger scale.

  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @03:23PM (#47265391)

    China worried about the logical consequences of its own provocations against Japan as well as failing to heel those of North Korea (who essentially only China has open lines of communication).

    Actually, I think you're wrong on both accounts. The military in China is a little bit crazy. Did you know that they are pledged by the constitution to support the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) rather than China itself? Think about that for a while. The civilian CCP government does control the PLA (People's Liberation Army), but for years now the PLA has been gaining in influence. I'm not sure even the CCP government really cares all that much about its provocations any more because they don't believe anybody will stand up to them, not even the USA.

    China and North Korea are stuck with each other. Russia had the good sense to get out of that crazy game of financially supporting them early in Yeltsin's presidency, and that left China holding the bag. China doesn't have as much influence as you might think, nor do they use what little they have as well as they could. It's not well known by the public, but China has a lot of business deals with North Korea where basically they get rare earths and other minerals for below market rates. These deals are very important to China and are the main reason they prop up North Korea. China is really tired of North Korea behaving badly and causing trouble in its backyard, but they fear even more a united democratic Korea that might (who knows?) have US troops stationed in it near the Chinese border. So like it or not, they are committed firmly to the status quo because it represents a "least evil" option to them. When China says that they want a nuclear free Korean peninsula, they are quite sincere about that. They don't trust North Korea to maybe not use a nuke against them in anger or by mistake as their missile systems might simply go the wrong way and blow up in China by accident. But they aren't willing to do anything to get rid of the Kims and the Kims aren't getting rid of their nukes because they believe that their family survival depends on it. The only ways that North Korea is ever going to be nuclear free is that either the US is going to attack them and gamble that they can destroy their few nuclear missiles before they leave North Korean airspace or (much less likely) the regime will collapse quickly for some unforeseen reason and the new government will get rid of the nukes.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nimey (114278) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:19PM (#47265823) Homepage Journal

    Japan's excuse for bombing Pearl Harbor was that we'd stopped selling them oil.

  • by steelfood (895457) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @08:04PM (#47268087)

    There are parts of your rather thoughtful assessment that I agree, and parts that I disagree with.

    they fear even more a united democratic Korea that might (who knows?) have US troops stationed in it near the Chinese border.

    I'm not sure that's the fear. A unified Korea, assuming from the South, would no longer require U.S. troop presence. And if the South managed to unify Korea, they'd be more likely to kick the U.S. troops out than to keep them there. The only reason the South Koreans tolerate the U.S. is because that keeps North Korea out. Keep in mind that South Korea (and Japan) are not grateful for the U.S. presence. They tolerate it and only because they have to. Taiwan is the only one who's amicable to the relationship, and they're growing closer and closer to the mainland every day (they'll still like Americans, but they know the money's in China). But there's no U.S. base in Taiwan either.

    They don't trust North Korea to maybe not use a nuke against them in anger or by mistake as their missile systems might simply go the wrong way and blow up in China by accident.

    You have to understand that China's need is economic growth at the moment. China is afraid of North Korea provoking war against the South. They're not so afraid of a unified Korea under the North regime if it just ended there. However, if the North ever took over the South, the next logical step would be to attack Japan. And this is especially true if North Korea had nukes. There would be absolutely no restraint from the rabid war dogs in the North against Japan. You do not understand hatred until you speak to a Korean about the Japanese (even the South Koreans, who are friendlier than their batshit crazy cousins up north).

    Such an action (the war, obviously) would destabilize the region enormously. The U.S. would be involved. China would be involved. Russia would be involved. Even India and much of Western Europe would be dragged into the conflict. That's the last thing China wants to see, because there's a lot of risk there with little to no reward. The risk is greater U.S. or Soviet--I mean Russian--influence in the area after the war concludes, or even of MAD.

    Even if North Korea magically discovers the ICBM and hits the U.S. with nukes, China would have lost, because the U.S. is really fueling the majority of China's economic growth. Now, when China has entered a period of economic self-sufficiency, their tune with regards to a nuclear North Korea may change. But for now, North Korea is a massive sore point for China.

    the Kims aren't getting rid of their nukes because they believe that their family survival depends on it.

    After Bush put Iran, North Korea, and Iraq in the so-called "Axis of Evil", are you surprised? Iran is also seeking nukes. And don't forget Pakistan, which is probably more unstable and more hostile to the U.S., was not included in this list for one very big, radioactive reason. The survival of the North Korean (as well as Iranian) state does depend on it. Hell, if Libya or Egypt or Syria had nukes, the western powers would have been helping the government, not helping rebels fight against it.

    The only ways that North Korea is ever going to be nuclear free is that either the US is going to attack them and gamble that they can destroy their few nuclear missiles before they leave North Korean airspace or (much less likely) the regime will collapse quickly for some unforeseen reason and the new government will get rid of the nukes.

    I'm not sure you get how other countries feel about the U.S., in particular those under the "Axis of Evil" label. The only way North Korea will not seek the bomb is if the U.S. implodes and collapses on itself. Full stop. Same with Iran.

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