Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Japan China The Military

Why China Is Worried About Japan's Plutonium Stocks 398

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.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why China Is Worried About Japan's Plutonium Stocks

Comments Filter:
  • Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nexion ( 1064 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:29PM (#47264289)

    Not too worried about Japan... I wouldn't cut off their fuel supply however.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:30PM (#47264293)

    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).

  • by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:35PM (#47264353) Homepage Journal

    I'd be worried too if a country who had invaded mine in living history, was under-reporting plutonium.

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

    by Shatrat ( 855151 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:36PM (#47264363)

    A lot more people died from conventional bombs in WWII than nuclear ones, even in Japan, and we're all still building and dropping those.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:39PM (#47264389) Homepage

    And, yet, China seems to be the one annexing islands and redefining boundaries.

    By some standards, China is more or less invading both Japan and Vietnam now.

    Who is the bigger threat? The closed communist government whose every public statement is a deluded fit of lies gets my vote. Have you ever read a press release out of China? It reads like bad fiction written by a delusional psychotic.

    Maybe if China is 'worried' about Japan, they need to look at their own actions and understand why Japan might be feeling the need to be able to protect themselves.

  • Absofuckinglutely (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:39PM (#47264393)

    Japan lives in a dangerous neighborhood, China is an expansive power making threats in the South China Sea, and the Obama Administration has proven feckless at supporting allies (see also: Ukraine, Iraq).

    The fact that nuclear weapons offend the tender sensibilities of Western liberals doesn't enter into their political calculations.

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

    by Shatrat ( 855151 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:45PM (#47264447)

    The Chinese government still uses Japan and the atrocities committed in the 1930s and 1940s as a bogeyman to distract from the atrocities committed by the Chinese government against it's own people in the 1940s and 1950s.

  • by Joe Gillian ( 3683399 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:48PM (#47264477)

    The idea that Japan could enrich plutonium and turn it into nuclear weapons, which China is trying to push here, is full of "mights". Their logic is essentially:

    - Japan didn't report 640kg of Mixed Oxide Fuel in an offline reactor because they didn't believe they had to. MOX is useless for making nuclear weapons by itself without further processing.

    - Plutonium can be extracted from MOX, and Japan is doing this, but they reported all of the plutonium they extracted from MOX to the IAEA.

    - Japan has a surplus stock of plutonium that they're not really supposed to have, but this is understandable given that plutonium is probably a pain to move around, and they have plans to use it as fuel in breeder reactors in the future.

    - Japan has shown no inclination to produce nuclear weapons outside of a few studies, all of which are well over a decade old and have been known about for years.

    - In China's mind, all of these things, which are circumstantial at best, indicate that Japan MIGHT be considering the production of nuclear weapons.

    From what it sounds like, Japan could've had nuclear weapons years ago if they really wanted to. 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.

  • Re:Serously? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Xaedalus ( 1192463 ) <[Xaedalys] [at] []> on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:58PM (#47264555)

    Which Chinese government? The KMT under Chiang Kai-Shek, or the CCP under Mao? The KMT was arguably far more corrupt than the CCP and deserved to be exiled to Taiwan. The KMT also did not control China, it only controlled a third-to-half of China. And if you argue that the KMT was the recognized government of China at the time, then you have to acknowledge that the KMT under CKS committed atrocities against the Communists (see the Long March) when it could have devoted those resources instead to driving the Japanese out of Manchuria. The CCP emerged from the Long March an ideologically pure, people-driven movement that did away with the crony-ridden corruption of the KMT and also countered the bellicose tyranny of Stalin. It wasn't until Mao succumbed to his own fear of becoming irrelevant and ordered the Great Leap Forward plus the Cultural Revolution that the CCP became as bad as the KMT.

    TDLR: All sides committed atrocities in that period--the argument is over which flavor of nationalism can shout the loudest

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

    by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:03PM (#47264603)
    Everybody in the modern world should get out of bed every morning and thank $deity for Harry Truman's decision to drop those two little bombs. If the world hadn't seen firsthand what those bombs were capable of, we certainly would have found another excuse to try them out, lots and lots more, with much bigger yields. Maybe Korea, maybe the Cuban Missile Crisis, maybe Viet Nam; first a "tactical" nuke or two, then an all-out exchange. Harry Truman should be sainted.
  • by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:03PM (#47264605)

    Japan are probably worried that they are not in any way protected by the US nuclear program. They worry that the US would stop short of getting involved in world war 3 if China really did want to invade Japan. By building their own nuclear arsenal, they remove that possibility and maintain MAD with China.

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:04PM (#47264621) Journal

    Exactly. China's claims over disputed waters with its neighbors is creating the conditions in which those neighbors either cozy up to the US, or, in the case of a heavily industrialized and wealthy nation like Japan, begin to reconsider their position so far as military position and investment.

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

    by Ancil ( 622971 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:08PM (#47264657)

    China is still a little sensitive regarding military actions of Japan

    All it takes is one charismatic mad-man.....

    Japan is a little sensitive about China sitting on dozens of ICBM's and claiming a large part of the western Pacific Ocean as their own.

    All it takes is one prudent leader.

  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:09PM (#47264679) Homepage Journal

    It's not really much plutonium. Sure, you can make about 40 city-sized Fat Man bombs out of it, but the scale is kind of pointless now: with a little hydrogen, you can turn a 14kg bomb up to eleven, and get yields that could blow up half of Japan instead of one small city.

    So, Japan can make 40 bombs. If Japan had only 20kg of plutonium, it could still make 3 or 4 devastating small warheads with fusion-boosted-fission, enough to blow holes in Russia or devastate the United States.

    If you think that's unrealistic, take a crash course in nuclear weapons. Fat Man had 14,000 grams of plutonium; it converted less that 1 gram into energy before the plutonium core blew apart. A fission-boosted-fusion bomb uses that explosion to trigger nuclear fusion in a second stage, which provides compressive force to hold the core together: the plutonium ball that burns a gram and blows apart now gets crushed together. With the right structure, you can burn 100 grams of the fuel, making the bomb 100 times bigger. A 1kg bomb would still be 7 times bigger than the 14kg Fat Man bomb.

    Some serious upgrades have been made to nuclear weapons. They're largely conventional explosive, with a little nuclear core; some are boosted with fusion, which sometimes has startling effects--once, they had a blast go off 100 times bigger than the models projected.

    Nuclear weapons are devastating. A handful of nuclear fuel is an arsenal. When you start getting into truckloads of fissile material, you're just wasting effort.

  • by adamgundy ( 836997 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:17PM (#47264765)

    Yeah, this seems a bit silly.

    Japan is already protected by the US nuclear program, so nothing really changes.

    so was the Ukraine, in exchange for giving up their ex-Soviet nukes. see how well that worked out for them?

    when push comes to shove, the US may, or may not, honor its commitments. it all depends on how much they want to go to war with China.

  • Re:Serously? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:22PM (#47264811) Homepage Journal

    The germans didn't run out of fuel and weapons. The germans had endless bombs, they had processes to turn natural gas into diesel (and they had tons of nat), and they didn't stop until we came in and kicked their asses. They still had weapons to fight with.

    The Japanese were running out of fuel, they were out of bombs. All they had left were bodies, and they were rapidly approaching a situation where they'd be trapped on a tiny island that we could just bomb the shit out of at our leisure. The whole collective of Japan would have to be severely retarded not to surrender; they may as well strip naked and march into the ocean to drown.

  • Curious (Score:4, Insightful)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:27PM (#47264869) Journal

    Japan has had the technical know-how to build nuclear weapons since the 1970s, certainly.

    The concern China expresses over the Japanese nuclear program is precisely the same concern a bully expresses when some local kid starts taking karate lessons.

    My main concern is that this may motivate the Chinese to increase their timetable for local seizure of various contested properties, in order to establish them as Chinese by fait accompli before Japan actually nuclearises and freezes the situation into a status quo. Of course, that would only increase Japan's motivation to militarize..

    A vicious cycle indeed; unfortunately, to expect China to behave toward its neighbors as anything other than Fascist Italy is apparently unrealistic.

  • by adamgundy ( 836997 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:35PM (#47264945) []

    they were put under a 'nuclear umbrella' - but only in response to nuclear threats. and since Russia has not used nuclear weapons, the US, UK etc are free to 'ignore' the problem. Ukrainians are understandably upset that they gave up their nukes.

    see how Japan might interpret this action? what if China does something that upsets Japan? will the US get involved, or come up with reasons to ignore the problem? would China be much more careful around Japan if they were nuclear armed? I think so..

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:40PM (#47264985)

    If I were Japan or any country in Europe, I would be arming my country to the teeth. Just look at what happened when Russia decided it wanted to take a bite out of Ukraine. Obama's sanctions against Russia aren't going to protect your countries. Look at Obama's response to China invading Vietnam.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:46PM (#47265045)

    Sad thing is I bet there are a good number of younger people around here who don't understand why you worded that sentence in the way you did and why you got a +5 as a result.

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:47PM (#47265053)

    No. There were no deals involving military intervention in any way and form. []

    However, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs argued that the Budapest memorandum does not apply to the 2014 Crimean crisis because separation of Crimea was driven by an internal political and social-economic crisis. Russia was never under obligation to force any part of Ukraine's civilian population to stay in Ukraine against its will.

    Russia knew the US would look for any conceivable way to avoid living up to their obligations. So they created one and the US bit. Don't get me wrong, I don't think we should be involved in any of this nonsense. We shouldn't be signing such things if we're not willing to live up to our obligations, but if in the event we do... like we did with Ukraine, we should be following through. Because we failed to, our other treaty partners don't trust us to live up to our agreements and develop their own weapons.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:51PM (#47265083)

    Protected in the sense of Diplomacy and UN Protection like Ukraine, not US Military support...

    In case anyone missed it, that's as useless as tits on a bull.

  • by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:53PM (#47265099)

    "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.

    I'm neither Japanese nor Chinese so the closest I can get to relating to the way the Chinese might feel about the Japanese and WWII (and at the same time unfortunately Godwining this thread) is that my great uncle spent years in a Nazi KZ camp, and my grandfather was arrested and worked over by the Gestapo for treason. No living memory there but I was raised by people who experienced the Third Reich first hand and it still makes my skin crawl whenever I hear one of the latest crop of European right-wing populists talk about the Moslems like the Nazis used to talk about the Jews before they gained power and still had to worry about freaking out the electorate. You don't need living memory to be become alarmed when the past looks like it might be about to begin to repeat itself and having read the Wikipedia article on the Nanking Massacres [] I can easily understand why the Chinese might be freaked out at the slightest hint of a nuclear armed Japan.

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @03:08PM (#47265251)

    Japan was already suing for peace.

    No, Imperial Japan was not suing for peace. A few diplomats were quietly floating the idea with Russia and living in complete fear that they would be discovered by the military and summarily executed for doing so. Even when the Emperor had decided to surrender and recorded a surrender message for the country elements of the military attacked the Imperial Palace to capture and destroy that recording and to "rescue" the emperor from the politicians who were leading him "astray".

    "as many as one thousand officers raided the Imperial palace on the evening of August 14, to destroy the recording. The rebels were confused by the layout of the Imperial palace and were unable to find the recording, which had been hidden in a pile of documents. The recording was successfully smuggled out of the palace in a laundry basket of women's underwear and broadcast the following day, although another attempt was made to stop it from being played at the radio station." []

    The majority of the Imperial Japanese leadership would only consider an armistice, a peace treaty, like that of WW1 (1919) that would leave Imperial Japanese leadership intact and the home islands unoccupied.

    They had run out of bombs, and the kamikaze were coming because they had no fuel to get back to Japan; die in the ocean, or die smashing your plane into a military target.

    No. Weapons and ammunition had been stockpiled. This included kamikaze aircraft and boats. Also Kamikazes took off with the full knowledge of and the intent to crash their aircraft into their target.

    The arguments around this drift over time. A lot of veterans have started telling me Japan was ready to drop plague-infested fleas on America. They'd hit California, and it would wipe out the entire nation. They've already tested them on China, and it worked. ... except China wasn't wiped out, and Japan could never reach California.

    The test in China was a limited test. They bombed a couple of villages and sent doctors in to examine the results. The tests included the use of a ceramic bomb casing that fractured and dispersed fleas using a very small charge that allowed most of the fleas to survive. Imperial Japan had successfully, although ineffectively, attacked the US pacific coast with balloons that drifted across the Pacific and dropped incendiary bombs. However the real plan regarding the fleas was to use submarine based aircraft. Yes, submarine based. Imperial Japan developed and built several submarines with a waterproof compartment on top that could house two or three aircraft. They were technological marvels that the US captured, studied, and sunk to avoid having to share them with the Russians.

    The whole story paints a narrative where varied analysis tells you that either it's made-up completely, or Japan has a weapon that kills as many people as a conventional drop-bomb.

    "This research led to the development of the defoliation bacilli bomb and the flea bomb used to spread bubonic plague.[28] Some of these bombs were designed with ceramic (porcelain) shells, an idea proposed by Ishii in 1938. These bombs enabled Japanese soldiers to launch biological attacks, infecting agriculture, reservoirs, wells, and other areas with anthrax, plague-carrier fleas, typhoid, dysentery, cholera, and other deadly pathogens." [] "They were submarine aircraft carriers able to carry three Aichi M6A Seiran aircraft underwater to their destinations ...The I-400-class was designed with the range to travel anywhere in the world and return" []

    The truth is

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

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @03:18PM (#47265351) Journal

    The China of 2014 is moving as quickly as it can towards becoming a major military power, and let us not forget that China is a nuclear power, so the idea that even if Japan went all the way, amended its constitution and formed a fully fleshed armed forces with nuclear capability (and everyone already believes that Japan is already nuclear capable), that it would mean the imminent invasion of China.

    China does not fear invasion, or anything like it. What it fears is that its own imperial ambitions will be completely constrained.

    The militaristic Japan of the last century is a useful propaganda bogeyman for China, but as a real threat to anything but contested maritime boundaries, it doesn't exist.

  • Re:Serously? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:35PM (#47266047)

    Further proof that the biggest threat to a person's life and liberty is their own government.

These screamingly hilarious gogs ensure owners of X Ray Gogs to be the life of any party. -- X-Ray Gogs Instructions