There’s no other way to put it… Japan isn’t screwing around. And that’s putting it politely.
Shinzo Abe (pronounced Ahh-bey), who recently retired as the nation’s Prime Minister due to reasons of personal health, has dropped quite the bombshell (no pun intended).
In a video address to the Taiwan-US-Japan Trilateral Indo-Pacific Security conference held in Taiwan’s capital city of Taipei, reported by Joel Gehrke of the Washington Examiner (emphasis mine);
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned China that an invasion of Taiwan would incur incalculable costs as the senior Japanese politician and U.S. officials spoke up for the island democracy’s autonomy.
“When there is a threat over Taiwan and its democracy, it is a dire challenge to all of us, especially to Japan,” said Abe, who resigned from the premiership over health reasons but remains a heavyweight among Japanese legislators. “An adventure in military affairs, if pursued by such a huge economy like China’s, could be suicidal, to say the least.”
Not only armed with one of the most technologically advanced conventional militaries on Earth, there have also been rumors that Japan has “a nuclear bomb in the basement.”
In a 2016 report by the Atomic Heritage Foundation;
There have been rumblings of change in Japanese policy in recent years, corresponding with the increasingly threatening presence of nuclear-state neighbors China and North Korea.
After North Korea announced a resumption of its nuclear program in 2009, former Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa gave a speech saying that Japan should develop nuclear weapons as a check, though the government condemned his statement.
As recently as 2014, anonymous statements from government officials confirm that Japan has “a bomb in the basement,” i.e. the capability to produce a nuclear weapon in a short space of time.
However, in a 2014 report by NBC News (emphasis mine);
A senior Japanese government official deeply involved in the country’s nuclear energy program, Japan has been able to build nuclear weapons ever since it launched a plutonium breeder reactor and a uranium enrichment plant 30 years ago.
“Japan already has the technical capability, and has had it since the 1980s,” said the official. He said that once Japan had more than five to 10 kilograms of plutonium, the amount needed for a single weapon, it had “already gone over the threshold,” and had a nuclear deterrent.
Japan now has 9 tons of plutonium stockpiled at several locations in Japan and another 35 tons stored in France and the U.K. The material is enough to create 5,000 nuclear bombs. The country also has 1.2 tons of enriched uranium.