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    核廃絶

    In the Mainichi, a typically confused argument for the global abolishment of nuclear weapons (Japanese original here, though the English version is well done):

    “Every American should visit Hiroshima,” said Balbina Hwang, a Northeast Asia specialist and a senior policy advisor during the administration of President George W. Bush. She was addressing reporters after giving a lecture in Tokyo in November following a visit to the Peace Memorial Museum and other locations in Hiroshima. “I was overwhelmed by a sense of humility,” she continued. “I was struck speechless upon seeing (what happened) with my own eyes.”

    Still, what Hwang saw was not the actual reality of the atomic bomb. Witnessing an exhibit — which can only offer a hint of the actual barbarity of the bomb — with one’s own eyes will shake any American’s soul to the core. Even today, the starting line toward the elimination of nuclear weapons lies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    I don’t know. I didn’t find that Hiroshima shook my soul to the core. It was very sobering. I was sorry it had to exist. I hope it’s never necessary to deploy nuclear warheads again.

    But when you read opinion pieces like this one, it’s easy to forget that when we bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we were not, say, retaliating against Japan for dumping cheap Sony electronics on our markets. World War II is called that for a reason. Japan thought it could play the USSR against the other Allies and capitalize on our exhaustion. It was wrong. America decided that it was not worth sacrificing more of our people and materiel waiting for Japan’s military command to figure out in its own time that surrender not only was inevitable but had to be immediate.

    Besides, the Mainichi editors make an interesting exception to their call for everyone to start beating their nuclear warheads into ploughshares:

    A basic international roadmap should be laid out at this year’s conference. Obama has already publicly announced his goal of eliminating nuclear weapons. Though the road to that finish line may be a long one, small, visible steps are necessary along the way. If the countries that possess nuclear weapons fail to demonstrate goodwill in the upcoming meeting, discontentment toward the NPT will be further exacerbated, getting in the way of international cooperation that is crucial to the prevention of nuclear terrorism. What is most important now is the reconstruction of an international consensus toward the goal of nuclear abolishment.

    Hwang, whose area of expertise includes North Korea, remains doubtful that the rogue nation’s nuclear arsenal will be completely eliminated. She says this is because North Korea is overwhelmed by insecurity. [!] As a result, says Hwang, North Korea is demanding not only the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from South Korea, but wants the entire U.S. nuclear umbrella to be removed from East Asia, including Japan.

    We seek the complete abolition of nuclear weapons from the world, and support President Obama’s efforts toward nuclear disarmament. At the same time, however, we do not see the protection we receive from the U.S. nuclear umbrella as unreasonable as long as the North Korean threat exists, and we will not accept our allies’ admonishments to give up on North Korean nuclear disarmament.

    So using nuclear weapons for protection—in fact, outsourcing nuclear protection to another country—is okay if you’re Japan, with North Korea a stone’s throw across the sea.

    But only temporarily, you understand.

    Just until everyone agrees to disarm.

    What’s never explained is how this is supposed to happen. “International consensus” sounds great, but I don’t recall one on any issue that involved agreement by every country on the entire planet. The international community can’t even stamp out age-old rogue behaviors such as piracy in shipping lanes, drug trafficking, and currency counterfeiting. In today’s world of decentralization and advanced telecom and transport technologies, it seems quixotic at best to believe that we can ever return to a state in which we can reliably say that no malefactor has nuclear weapons. It’s a bummer to have to think that way, but as long as human beings are born with human nature, there will be some bummers we have to stare in the face and prepare to deal with forcefully. In the universe we actually inhabit, the weaned child who puts his hand on the cockatrice’s den is going to get bitten.

    4 Responses to “核廃絶”

    1. Maria says:

      I haven’t been to Japan to see the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, thus I can’t speak to that. I do remember in 6th grade science class our teacher showed us a movie which was clearly film coverage of the immediate aftermath of the atomic holocaust. Those images have stayed with me for the past 30 years. I think the teacher learned a valuable lesson in that she hadn’t previewed the film before showing us, which she should have done. It was pretty horrific for 11 and 12 year old’s. A lot of us couldn’t eat lunch after that. I can’t say I regret having seen it though. Do they show any film clips at the museum, Sean? I remember our teacher apologizing to us–she had no idea it was going to be so graphic.

      Anyways, I just wanted to share that it can be never be underestimated how horrific atomic and/or hydrogen bombs can be. I do understand the fear of collective human amnesia which we have seen throughout history.

      But, I agree with you, Sean, that we don’t really know how disarmament can happen. Nations can make all kinds of promises and agreements while “cooking the uranium in the back room,” so to speak. If everyone could be trusted, fine. But, we all know, too well, that is not the case.

    2. Sean says:

      Yes, they have video, Maria—it’s a pretty comprehensive installation.

      I don’t think the problem I have is with people’s pointing out that the results of the bombings were horrific. Of course, they were. It was a single warhead that could kill 100K people at a time. The problem I have is when “The dropping of the atom bombs was the most destructive single attack in military history” starts to evolve into “Therefore, the United States could not possibly have been justified in doing it” and “Therefore, Japan can hector the rest of the world about peaceableness from a legitimate position of victimhood.” And it’s especially galling from a commentator who point-blank (pardon the expression) admits that he’s glad Japan is currently protected by the United States’s nuclear umbrella.

    3. Zak says:

      Ohisashiburi.

      I find it incredibly hypocritical of Japanese people to preen about how pure they are for not possessing nukes nor allowing them into the country. The fact is, the only reason this is so is because they benefit from America’s nuclear umbrella. If America clearly stated that Japan was on its own deterrently-speaking, Japan would cast one eye towards China, one towards N. Korea, and develop their own nukes in about a month.

    4. Sean says:

      Indeed. Some have argued that it’s a near certainty that Japan does have a clandestine cache of nukes anyway; I have no way of judging how likely that is to be the case.

      Hope you and the family are doing well, Zak—good to see you check in.

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