November 12, 2016

Japan Developing Nuclear Weapon Capability due to Trump Uncertainty

In response to (now President-Elect) Trump's oft repeated questioning of the sanctity of alliances Japan has been quietly hedging, anticipating a gradual withdrawal of US extended nuclear deterrence. 

Japan has definitly developed two of the three essential components of a nuclear weapons capability:

1.  a viable nuclear weapon delivery system (see Japan's dual-use delivery system, the Epsilon rocket.
     below), and
     Plutonium. (also see)


3?  Over the last 65 years such an advanced nuclear energy power as Japan will have at least design

      plans under lock-and-key for the third element, a viable nuclear device. "During the Sato cabinet
      in the 1960's, it is reported that Japan secretly studied the development of nuclear weapons." 

With today's computer modeling Japan would not even need to test a nuclear device. Certainly Japan would have little trouble developing a fission device - given plans for such devices were distributed by the A Q Khan network decades ago.

A Japanese Epsilon rocket, with dual-use potential as a future nuclear armed ICBM, launched from Uchinoura Space Center, southern Japan, September 2013, carrying satellite.
---

JAPAN'S DUAL-USE DELIVERY SYSTEM




Japan's Epsilon rocket. Specifications for the Epsilon include: Height 24.4m, Diameter 2.5m, Mass 91 tons, 3 or 4 stages. Its shape, with no strap-on boosters, is ideal for silo, rail or truck launch. Reduced to 2 stages it might provide the basis for an SLBM.

These Epsilon specs are very similar to the developed but cancelled US MX  ICBM. MXs specs are Height 22m, Diameter 2.3m, Weight 97 tons, 3 stages, blast yield 3 Mt total (using up to 10 MIRVs).

Modern ballistic missiles generally have solid fuel stages (for quicker preparation and more rugged handling) rather than liquid fuel typically used in civilian rockets. So it is notable that the first, second and third stages of the Epsilon are solid fuel.

The 2013 Epsilon launch, carrying satellite.
---

The extent to which the US assisted JAXA's Epsilon Project is unclear. Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency (JAXA) is Japan’s NASA equivalent. Space agencies have dual military-civilian use technology and dual-use career personnel. 

50 comments:

Ztev Konrad said...

More interestingly in the South China Sea
"The region is focused intently on China's behaviour as it makes increasingly brazen assaults on the territorial rights of its neighbours.Last week, for instance, it was China's intrusion into Indonesian waters.
Beijing sent a coast guard ship to disrupt a standard Indonesian operation to prevent illegal Chinese fishing.
The Indonesians seized the Chinese fishing vessel in the Natuna Sea[near Natuna Is]. But as they towed the confiscated boat to Indonesia, the Chinese coast guard rammed the fishing vessel, allowing it to escape."
http://www.smh.com.au/comment/careless-donald-trump-is-a-danger-to-australia-and-asia-20160328-gnsdam.html

And further North
"Japan has switched on a radar station in the East China Sea, giving it a permanent intelligence-gathering post close to Taiwan and a group of islands disputed by China, a move bound to rile Beijing.
The new Japanese Self Defence Force (JSDF) base on the island of Yonaguni is at the western extreme of a string of Japanese islands in the East China Sea, 150 kilometres south of the disputed islands known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China."
http://www.smh.com.au/world/china-sea-dispute-japan-opens-selfdefence-radar-station-close-to-disputed-islands-20160328-gnsnwk.html

Peter Coates said...

Hi Ztev

To present a more resolute US policy against China regarding the South China and East China Seas I'm hoping foreign policy of any Trump Presidency will rely on such stalwarts as:

- ex Vice Pres, ex Defense Sec Dick Cheney (still ticking at 75) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Cheney#Secretary_of_Defense and

- ex Defense Sec Robert Gates https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Gates

who have the decades of experience Trump doesn't.

Prez Hillary as a foreign policy setter also harder line. Don't know about Bernie.

Japan was only spending 1% of GDP on Defense in 2014 and 2015 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures . Percentage clearly needs to rise.

Regards

Pete

Josh said...

First, it is important note that Trump looses in any general election poll against any of the surviving candidates, one on one. Second, were by some tragedy he were elected, his statements must be taken with a grain of salt: He has reversed himself numerous times and generally doesn't have solid, detailed positions, and in addition to this uncertainty you have to factor in that the vast majority of what he proposes both domestically and foreign policy wise he could not execute with out Congress which would never support the majority of his agenda. In some cases, what he proposes is unconstitutional and would be struck down or require an amendment which hasn't happened in most of a century.

That said the Trump phenomena is quite disturbing and hinges on two main factors. He has overwhelmingly huge amounts of free press from the media because his over the top statements generate ratings, even from people who absolutely hate Trump. This is in addition to his huge name reconignition as a reality TV star and a huge social media presence (both for and against).

The other thing is that US politics have been incredibly stratified, not just the two main political parties vs each other but also the overwhelmingly wealthy (those who control the financial system in particular) who generate their money via investment versus those who work for a living and have a traditional income. This in term stems from 2008 crash, largely perceived as being the fault of the financial/investor class, and the Reagan tax cuts from the 19080s that tax investments at a top level of 15% but income derived from work at up to 28% (depending on income). In addition the US now allows unlimited political donations in the form of super political action committees (as a result of the SCOTUS decision of Citizens United) which is in effect a type of legalized corruption.

The end result is a populace that largely thinks its government is corrupt and serves only the most wealthy individuals, which creates willingness to vote for anyone who will 'burn the system down'. Trump plays this card and also has massive celebrity name recon-ignition at this point. To lessor extent Bernie Sander's success is derived from this sentiment as well, though his position is nothing new; his views have just become recently very popular.

Ultimately Senator Sanders is unlikely to defeat his main stream rival Hillary and Trump is even far less likely to win a general election than Sanders is to win his party's nomination, but it has made for an unpredictable election cycle. For foreign observers, it's worth noting that barring massive changes to the US financial system, this type of anti-establishment rhetoric is likely to only intensify and foreign policy issues and alliances will likely be seen as increasingly lessor concerns to the American public. On the other hand, as a body Congress is an exceedingly stable organization where ecumbants tend to spend large sections of their life in office, and because of this *actual* US foreign policy is unlikely to drastically change on issues like NATO, Japan, Taiwan, PI, etc. So all in all, despite the crazy sounds coming out of the US right now its unlikely that an unconventional leader is elected and even more unlikely that this results in any fundamental change to US foreign policy: most of what you hear is purely for domestic consumption.


Cheers,
Josh

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

I do not think Japan select nuclear armament from various standpoints such as:

National sentiment
Japan has no will to develop nukes. Tragedy of Hiroshima & Nagasaki give strong anti-nuke feels sentiment to Japanese. The Fukushima nuclear disaster also gives anti-nuclear power generation sentiment. Japanese people do not admit development of nuke.

International relation and law
Japan is ratifier of Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Withdrawal of NPT does not provide any international merit to Japan. The withdrawal will hurt reputation of Japan as peaceful country and significantly weaken international influence of Japan.

R&D
Development of Epsilon is different from that of nuke. Budget of Japan proves perfect absence of R&D on nukes. As I sometimes show, Japanese budget system is crystal clear.

Testing field for nukes
Testing field for nukes does not exist in Japan. No governor admits construction of the testing field in his or her prefecture, especially the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

General and other example
Acquisition of certain technology does not mean development of weapon based on the said technology. Many countries produce phosphoric salt which can be raw material of chemical warfare such as Sarin or VX gas and production of chemical warfare is much easier than that of nukes. But, these countries do not seem to develop chemical warfare. And, fertilizer company does not mean explosive company.

Regards
S

Hardcash said...

My guess is Japan has already asked the US to be more vigorous in opposing Chinese activity in the East & South China Seas as an Alliance tester, with very little US response thus far!!! They (the Japanese) know by now that their Alliance with the US is just that, an Alliance not a guarantee of security. The US is a nice to have big brother but it's definetly not dependable back up, especially when dealing with an assertive China in Asia. Late entry into to world wars has shown us that the US "ALWAYS" looks after it's own interests first! Would they really go so far as to challenge China in Asia, for Japan???...I doubt it. Can Japan take that risk - NO! Same goes for Australia!

This is why Aus and Japan should exit their US Alliances and form one of their own. Due to geography, Japan and Aus can't retreat from the Asian poker table, the US can - fact! They could easily retreat from Asia to the Western hemisphere if they don't have the stomach for a fight- fact!

Remember, any Aus/Jap Alliance would be highly patronised by the US, they would view this Alliance as a perfect counter to Chinese influence in Asia! Other Asian nations who rely upon US deterrence would probably want to join?

From there Aus/Jap could build (conventional & nuclear) subs together and if they choose, with Japanese nuclear engineering and missile technology together with Australia's vast spaces (ie Wommera missile range) and uranium resources, they can test and attain an ICBM deterrent of their own!

Seems like simple logic to me.......

Rgds

Muz

Josh said...

It strikes me that anyone who thinks that the Japanese haven't intentionally planned a nuclear breakout capability is naive. Their nuclear reprocessing program and the amount of plutonium they keep in storage is an extreme example of 'dual use' technology. Ditto the Epsilon program. They adhere to the nonproliferation treaty so long as it seems it is in their best interest. Consider a four stage solid ballistic missile and the amount of plutonium they have; if that had been Iran the IAF would have already started an intense and potentially sustained bombing campaign. The Japanese make no overt move to actual nuclear weapons design or testing while going as far as they can with peaceful space and civilian power without going over the non proliferation line, but they do so with a keen eye to a Plan B if the US falters or reneges on the nuclear umbrella.

Cheers
Josh

Josh said...

Re: Hardcash

First, the US has run bombers and ships right up against PRC's new 'islands' in FONOPS. I've yet to hear of any JMSDF forces doing similar. I believe it has been reported that RAN Orions have done the same, but I'm not aware of any other Pacific countries routinely engaging in the practice. I've specifically not heard of Japanese units doing this and I'd like to corrected if that is the case, but if those are the facts then it hardly seems like it is the US that is being cowed by China.

Second I don't see what pulling out of alliance with the US brings to the table. If it were to come down to Japan and other local countries being in alliance, that is largely what is already in place. I don't see what the associated risk of being allied with the US is, except potential complacency - though I also can't see Japan investing more money and effort in its military than it currently does regardless, so I again fail to see the advantage of Japan rethinking its position regarding the US. Throwing the US out doesn't seem to buy anything but to ensure the world's largest nuclear power and navy no longer has a vested reason to be involved in the region. I'd dare say that this would be exactly what the CCP would desire the most.

Cheers
Josh

Ztev Konrad said...

Australia is never going to leave an alliance with US, and while I cant speak for Japan I dont think its politically possible for them either.

Theses sort of fishing disputes can be over dramatised as they are a constant occurrence in recent historical times.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cod_Wars for UK- Iceland.
There was the Lobster war , turbot war etc.
Even between the UK( for Canada) and USA in 1898 in the Bering Sea with ships being captured by US!
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bering_Sea_Arbitration.
probably there is not much dispute between US and Canada these days as the fish have mostly gone.

Seeing every issue in terms of national conflict only benefits the arms manufacturers.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Josh, S, Hardcash and Ztev

Thanks for a whole wealth of interesting comments.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Josh [at 30/3/16 1:27 AM]

US Presidents, being chief executives and heads of state, do actually influence foreign/defence policies. This is even considering ssuch other political influences as Congress, US Cabinet, Party luminaries, and the military industrial complex.

One only needs to look at the contrast between Reagan and his predecessor Carter to see Reagan’s much greater emphasis on expanding the military, including the USN.

Presidents often capture/exploit world trends ie. 9/11 to invade Afghaistan but scrupulously avoid capturing Bin Laden (to keep the Saudis happy), due to their Party’s values, or in the case of Bush Jr even family background, vis a vis finishing the job in Iraq.

If Trump becomes a President with the Republican domination of Congress intact we can perhaps expect more "getting tough" on China and greater consistency on US deployments in Syria/Iraq and Afghanistan.

Trump does not have the "Obama legacy" considerations that have kept US numbers low in the Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi S

As the Japanese public is finding Abe is causing evolutionary changes in Japan’s defence posture.

10 years ago a move towards a more activist Japanese military that could fight in counter-insurgencies in the Middle East or want to sell hardcore submarine weapons to Australia would have been way in front of public and Japanese expert expectations.

Pete

Peter Coates said...

S and Josh [30/3/16 2:42 PM]

In strategic estimates countries are assessed on their military capabilities not just their policies or good records.

Japan’s Epsilon space missile has the essential basics of an ICBM:

- no strap on boosters (hence capable of submarine or land silo deployment)

- long range and high payload capacity

- accurate guidance and

- most telling, solid fuel stages for quick military uses. In contrast space rockets frequently have liquid fuel stages. But liquid fuel is too delicate and slow to prime for quick military actions.

Japan’s reproccessing of nuclear fuel is an uneconomic/expensive process. Most reprocessing countries maintain such facilities to enhance nuclear weapons programs.

South Korea is banned from reprocessing under US laws while Japan has enough power and money to maintain reprocessing facilities.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Hardcash

I think Australia and Japan won't exit their US alliances unless they are compelling alternative structures or capabilities. The bigger the alliance the more powerful its constituent countries.

The extended nuclear deterrence (umbrella) that the US protects Australia and Japan with, could not be replaced by an Australian nuclear deterrent unless we boosted GDP on defence to 4%. Japan would need boost GDP for defense to 2%. Japan may well be called on by the US to boost to 2% anyway as Japan will be expected to fund more of its own defence.

Japan may get to the point that France did. In the late 1940s/early 50s France reasoned that it couldn’t trust/expect the US to go to nuclear war in defence of France against Russia. So France developed its own nuclear deterrence. The UK did likewise.

As the Chinese military rises the US military in the Asia-Pacific region will be steadily less dominant. Against nuclear North Korean and especially Chinese threats Japan in the next 30 years may well have to build a nuclear deterrent.

Japanese public expectations change - even slowly

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Ztev [30/3/16 3:18 PM]

I agree Australia won’t break its alliance with the US.

Australia is well placed as an air-naval and intelligence sensor base on the US westerly route to the oil rich Middle East. Also Fleet Base West Rockingham, Western Australia, Tindal Airbase and Pine Gap in Australia’s Northern territory are much more defensible than bases in East Asia due to lucky geography. The US-Australia have fought mutually beneficial wars together since 1941.

Whether an ally so under threat (from nearby enemies) as Japan would be a useful ally to Australia is an issue not yet fully thought out in Australia.

China is much more than a fishing "war" competitor. China is building air and naval bases on common waters which will disrupt major strategic routes. Much more than mere Cod Wars - funny belittling of the China rise-threat... :)

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

FYI, the Japanese recently shipped the majority of their plutonium to the US.
KQN

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Japan efforts on disarmament and non-proliferation [1]. For example, under the international treaty, INFCIR/153 [2], strict inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Japan Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA)[3] is carried out on a regular base to validate management of nuclear materials.

People who disagree with result or judgement of the inspection should directly complain IAEA.

[1] http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/un/disarmament/index.html (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
”JAPAN'S EFFORTS ON DISARMAMENT AND NON-PROLIFERATION
As the only country to have suffered atomic bombings, Japan has been leading the international discussion on disarmament and non-proliferation. Japan has been promoting real change by calling on all nuclear weapon states to take measures toward nuclear disarmament while increasing transparency in military armaments

[2]http://www.jnmcc.or.jp/agree/
INFCIRC/153”THE STRUCTURE AND CONTENT OF AGREEMENTS BETWEEN THE AGENCY AND STATES REQUIRED IN CONNECTION WITH THE TREATY ON THE NON-PROLIFERATION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS”

[3]http://www.nsr.go.jp/english/index.html

Regards
S

(Sorry, I sent this comment for wrong article = March27, 2016)

Peter Coates said...

Hi KQN

Right you are. A very small proportion of Japan's very large Plutonium stockpile is/has been shipped to the US.

http://phys.org/news/2016-03-british-ships-japan-plutonium.html dated March 21, 2016 reports:

"The Pacific Egret and Pacific Heron, both operated by Pacific Nuclear Transport Ltd., will take the 331 kilograms (730 pounds) of plutonium to the Savannah River Site, a U.S. government facility in South Carolina..."

[BUT the article goes on to say] "Japan has accumulated a massive stockpile of plutonium—11 metric tons in Japan and another 36 tons that have been reprocessed in Britain and France and are waiting to be returned to Japan— enough to make nearly 6,000 atomic bombs."

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Australia is major producer of uranium [1] and is second biggest supplier (19%) of uranium in Japan [2], export of uranium from Australia to Japan respecting Australia’s nuclear safeguards policy under safeguards agreement with the IAEA [3]. People who doubt IAEA safeguards on Japan should doubt Australia’s nuclear safeguards policy. We should criticize not only possession of gun or drug but also gun or drug producer or seller. PM Abe already expressed that Japan would not have excess Plutonium.

By the way, how does Australia explain export of uranium to nuclear-armament country? And, I am interesting in relation of Oz-uranium industry and China.

[1]http://www.smh.com.au/business/energy/australian-uranium-in-demand-as-china-goes-full-steam-for-nuclear-20151217-glqldr.html

[2]http://www.aec.go.jp/jicst/NC/tyoki/hatukaku/siryo/siryo8/siryo2.pdf Important issue of policy option: on the energy security”(JPN), p11-12, Feb/23/2012, “Important issue of policy option: on the energy security” by sub-commission on atomic generation and Nuclear fuel cycle technology, Japan atomic energy commission.

[3]https://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publications/international-relations/asno-annual-report-2013-14/html/section-2/australias-uranium-production-and-exports.html

Regards
S

Ztev Konrad said...

Hi Pete. I saw the two issues of 'fishing wars' and the atoll building as separate. The fishing disputes in this area are endemic ( and replicated in many other areas)

" According to Vietnam’s Tuoitre News, a fishing boat operated by 11 Vietnamese fishermen off the coast of Quang Ngai was intercepted, harassed, and sunk by two Chinese ships in waters off the Paracel archipelago".- June2015 http://thediplomat.com/2015/07/china-steps-up-harassment-of-vietnamese-fishermen/

The Scarborough Shoal standoff refers to tensions between China (PRC) and the Philippines which began on April 8, 2012 over the Philippine Navy apprehension of eight mainland Chinese fishing vessels in the disputed Scarborough Shoal
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarborough_Shoal_standoff

Canada and the United States declared an end to their long-running “salmon war” today with a fishing agreement officials said was designed to protect the dwindling fish stocks on the Pacific coast.....The dispute has erupted several times, with Canada seizing some U.S. boats and British Columbia once threatening to stop the U.S. Navy from access to a Canadian facility used to test submarines.
The most serious incident happened in the late summer of 1997, when a 200-boat flotilla of angry British Columbia fishermen blockaded an Alaskan ferry for three days in the harbor of Prince Rupert.
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=99350

Australia and NZ of course have a major dispute with Japan over Whale 'fishing' in Southern near antarctic waters.

"Argentina's coast guard says it sank a Chinese fishing vessel that was fishing in a restricted area off the South American country's coast.
The Argentine Naval Prefecture chased and eventually sank the Lu Yan Yuan Yu 010 vessel after detecting it illegally fishing within the country's exclusive economic zone, officials said Tuesday."http://edition.cnn.com/2016/03/15/americas/argentina-chinese-fishing-vessel/

There is an old saying the university faculty internal politics is so nasty because so little is at stake! Fishing is much the same.

Josh said...

@Ztev:

While to some extent you're right that fishing rights have always been touchy issue between fishing fleets of various nationalities the globe over, this ignore one key difference between the PRC and other fishing fleets: A proportion of Chinese fishing vessels are subsidized with equipment and organized as militia vessels in an intentional effort to blur the line between combatant and non combatant. Such militia vessels go as far as training in mine laying, to say nothing of general intimidation and intelligence gathering. To be fair this isn't the entire Chinese fishing fleet, but to say it isn't a factor and doesn't exist and isn't intentionally leveraged as a way to create gray situations where the PRC can claim deniability while still having a real presence is to be a bit naive of Chinese policies and military organization. The two cannot be completely separated and this is _by design_.

Cheers
Josh

Peter Coates said...

Hi Ztev and Josh

It is even possible that China may or may have already developed militia "fishing boats" to the same stage as secretly armament Cold War Soviet trawlers.

Have a look at this description with photos: http://www.defensetech.org/2012/03/09/cold-war-tech-soviet-torpedo-trawlers/

Looking innocuous http://live-defensetech.sites.thewpvalet.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/trawler1.jpg

"The ship above looks like an innocent little ex-Soviet fishing trawler. You know, the innocent trawlers that were always fishing within sight of U.S. warships. Fishing for intelligence, that is, boom! (Sorry, it was so bad I couldn’t resist.)

Anyway, it appears that some of those trawlers were carrying more than imaginary fishhooks and EW/SIGINT gear. The pic below shows the bow section of that trawler equipped with what appears to be at least one torpedo tube and what might be a sonar dome. So sneaky. This torpedo-armed trawler may have been a one-off concept ship, since it’s unknown how many were actually built"

See possible bow sonar and torpedo tube (no ther use) http://live-defensetech.sites.thewpvalet.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Soviettrawler2.jpg

US and UK submarine crews in the Cold War became quite irritated by Soviet "trawlers" detecting underwater movement and following submarines for days. But submarine crews had to secretly tolerate such harassment.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi S [30/3/16 11:01 PM]

Yes there are international laws governing nuclear activities but the laws are frequently broken with the knowledge of most countries.

Israel, Pakistan and India having "illegal" nuclear arsenals which are widely accepted by many countries.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group decided that its memebers (including the US Australia and Japan) can supply nuclear equipment including advanced nuclear reactors to "illegally" nuclear armed India. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Suppliers_Group

Australia can and does supply Uranium to China for nuclear energy uses. But this also frees up Chinese mined Uranium for diversion from "nuclear energy uses" to nuclear weapon uses. Same for Australia Uranium to India and to Russia.

Also even India's nuclear weapon reactors are not inspected by the IAEA.

For major nuclear armed powers international laws are useful codified politics.

Also "Article VI of the NPT represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_on_the_Non-Proliferation_of_Nuclear_Weapons#Second_pillar:_disarmament None of the "nuclear-weapon States" US, UK, Russia, France and China have disarmed. In fact their nuclear weapons have become more accurate - more usable in a major war.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Japan is not going to develop nukes at all. I show result of IAEA inspection on plutonium [1, 2]. Because Japan honestly declares stockpile of plutonium, some people and counties can criticize Japan. Japan was criticized that it sent only 331kg of plutonium stockpile (11t) to USA, but South Carolina governor seems to think it is huge amount [3].

[1] http://isis-online.org/uploads/conferences/documents/chap3.pdf GUIDELINES FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF PLUTONIUM (INFCIRC/549)

[2] http://www.aec.go.jp/jicst/NC/iinkai/teirei/siryo2015/siryo28/siryo3.pdf “The status of the management of plutonium in Japan”, July/21/2015, Office for Atomic Energy Policy, Cabinet Office, Japan.

1. Breif overview
(1) Report of the status of the management of plutonium
According to NPT, Japan put every nuclear material and activity under safety guard of IAEA [1]. Especially on plutonium, Japan firmly maintains the principle that it does not possess plutonium without utilization purpose. As is important to improve transparency of plutonium utilization of plutonium and to obtain consent from home and abroad, according “GUIDELINES FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF PLUTONIUM” of IAEA[1], Japan has published the status of the management of plutonium which is used and stored in home and abroad, and has reported it to IAEA every year after 1994.
*snip*
(3)Conclusion of 2014 safety guard
Based on the activities of safety guard which conducted in 2014, the Board of IAEA directors in this Jun concluded “There is no indication of diversion from peaceful nuclear activity in declared nuclear materials. Undeclared nuclear material or activities were not indicated”
*snip*

[3]http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-japan-nuclear-idUSKCN0WQ1NO“South Carolina governor urges U.S. to divert plutonium from Japan”, May/24/2016

Regards
S

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete
As is important to improve transparency of plutonium utilization of plutonium and -- >
As is important to improve transparency of plutonium utilization and
Regards S

sidharth mohanty said...

Hi Pete ,
Excellent observation the Epsilon rockets with 2 stage solid fueled and third stage liquid fueled with an optional fourth stage definitively looks like it can be converted into an ICBM with reduced burn time though the whole question of Japan making an ICBM is itself moot . With 280s + Sea level specific impulse (wiki) for the first stage of Epsilon is impressive in itself except US and Russia I don't think anyone yet has such solid fuel even NEPE-75 used by US probably doesn't have such high Isp sea level (I may be wrong here ).
Now the only problem seems to be nuclear weapons though Japan has oodles of Plutonium but mostly they are reactor grade or fuel grade unsuitable for implosion type warhead for Pu though P5 countries and probably India have shown capabilities in making warhead out of less than weapons grade Pu but nobody seriously uses reactor grade Pu for weapons . So Japan needs to have dedicated military reactor/s and dedicated reprocessing capability for generating weapons grade Pu .
Now Japan needs to test at least once which will be tough due to current global scenario. The Japanese can do all their pre testing studies but without having to test it will be tough . Given Japan's stand on nuclear weapons it seems tough but possible.
South Korea on the other hand has a higher probability of turning nuclear than Japan given North's posturing. In a longer run It is possible one of them may go nuclear.

Cheers
Sidharth

Peter Coates said...

Hi Sidharth

I think if Trump become President and he continues his let South Korea and Japan become nuclear armed "policy" then Japan, which has spent more than $25 Billion on reprocessing facilities, can alter those facilites to be fit for purpose.

In contrast South Korea has been banned from reprocessing https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Korean_nuclear_research_programs#Early_nuclear_ambitions

Enriched U is a less complex root in terms of device. This is noting that the US in 1945 did not need to test the Little Boy U gun-type device before using it.

If some in South Korea again become interested in such possibilities then that may cause some factions in the Japanese military to want to keep pace or move in front.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Japanese government quickly responds to winning of Mr. Trump. Japan’s ambassador, Kenichiro Sasae contacted the senator Jeff" Sessions III and son in law of Mr. Trump, Mr.Jared Kushner and realized telephone meeting between PM Abe and next President. According to Minister of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Mr. Kishida, Japanese government has tried to make contact pipe with Trump camp early this year considering that Mr.Trump may also win. MOFA executive relieved “There is chemistry between PM and Mr. Trump.” [correction made] He revealed Japan is going to input its idea into Mr. Trump, before determination of personnel affairs and forgein policy of next US administration [1].

Coming meeting in New York between PM Abe and Mr. Trump on Nov/17 will be quite important.

In this morning, ex-Minister of Defense, Mr. Onodera suggested Japan should adopt more independent defense policy. But, I do not think even hawkish current government support development of nuclear weapon system.

[1] http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20161110-00000150-jij-pol1

Regards
S

Peter Coates said...

Hi S

Thanks for your 2/11/16 5:57 PM comments above.

This prompted me to locate the Japan Times article of 10 November 2016 below.

Regards Pete

"Abe quickly sets up meeting with Trump in New York"
BY REIJI YOSHIDA
STAFF WRITER
NOV 10, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/11/10/national/politics-diplomacy/abe-trump-look-meet-next-week-new-york/#.WCa-gC197b0
A day after Donald Trump’s shocking victory, the U.S. president-elect and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a 20-minute teleconference Thursday morning and agreed to meet on Nov. 17 in New York if possible, a senior official said.

Abe, speaking from the Prime Minister’s Office, extended his congratulations to Trump and said he is convinced “America will be made even greater” under his leadership, he was quoted as saying by the official, who briefed reporters in Japanese.

In response, Trump praised Abe’s economic achievements. He also said he is looking forward to working together with Abe over the next few years and will “further strengthen the great partnership” between the U.S. and Japan, the official said.

Abe had reportedly proposed to Trump’s team that the two leaders chat by phone after the election. Abe is reportedly the fourth foreign leader to have spoken with Trump since the election.

Like other countries, Japan is eager to build ties with the maverick businessman. Before the election, Abe met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in September in New York on her request, but did not meet with Trump.

Usually, a Japanese prime minister won’t agree to meet with a U.S. presidential candidate, according to Japanese officials.

After Trump cemented his victory, senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office scrambled to minimize any potential political damage by playing down the negative aspects of Trump’s election.

During the campaign, Trump repeatedly criticized what he described as an unfair security treaty with the Japan. Abe has based all of his foreign policy on Japan’s military ties with the U.S.

Later, senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office rushed to make contact with Trump before he gets sworn in on Jan. 20.

[MORE BELOW]

Peter Coates said...

[FROM ABOVE]



“We consider that what a candidate said during a political campaign can be different from what the candidate will actually do after taking office,” one of the officials said.

“There may be some issues over specific policies, but the basic relations between the two countries won’t change,” the official insisted.

During the heated presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly painted Japan as a trade rival and said Tokyo shoulder the entire cost of maintaining U.S. military forces now stationed in the country.

Trump said the bilateral security treaty was overwhelmingly lopsided and even threatened to withdraw U.S. troops from Japan and South Korea and let them defend themselves — possibly with their own nuclear weapons — a move that would drastically change the military balance in East Asia and possibly the world.

“Japan is better if it protects itself against this maniac of North Korea,” Trump told CNN in an interview March 29. “They have to protect themselves or they have to pay us.”

The military alliance with the U.S. has been the centerpiece of Japan’s diplomatic policies, as Tokyo is trying to keep China’s military expansion in both the East and South China seas in check while stopping North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development.

If Trump makes good on his campaign rhetoric, it would deal a serious blow to Japan and the region.

Abe, in Thursday’s teleconference, emphasized that peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, which he described as “the center of world economic growth,” is a source of strength for the U.S., according to the official who briefed reporters.

A strong Japan-U.S. alliance is “indispensable” to support this peace and stability, Abe reportedly told Trump, adding he hopes to meet with him as soon as possible. Trump welcomed Abe’s proposal and agreed to adjust his schedule to meet him possibly on Nov. 17, the official said.

Abe plans to stop in New York on his way to Lima for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit on Nov. 19 and 20.

Japanese officials are hoping that Trump will come around once he is sworn in, but that may just be wishful thinking.

During their conversation, Trump and Abe only exchanged diplomatic greetings and didn’t touch on any potentially sensitive defense and trade issues.

Asked whether they will discuss sensitive issues such as defense spending and the Trans-Pacific Partnership during their first meeting in New York, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said building trust will probably take priority over specific topics.

“Today (the two) have just agreed to meet. It’s important to first build up personal trust and talk about basic things,” Suga told a news conference Thursday. “No specific agenda to discuss has been decided yet.”

MHalblaub said...

Dear Sidharth,

the question about the Epsilon being an ICBM is easy to answer. Just use the first stage. That is more than enough. The upper stages are for moving a satellite from low earth orbit (LEO) into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) and from there into stationary orbit.

The Epsilon rocket can lift about 1,200 kg into low earth orbit (LEO).
The "B" in ICBM stands for "Ballistic". So the payload for a ballistic missile can exceed this value for LEO.

Epsilon's first stage is nothing more than the booster of the H-IIA rocket.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H-IIA

The European Arian 5 also uses solid rocket boosters. They are derived from the French M51 missile. The boosters have a bigger diameter.

Even without a nuclear warhead a payload of > 1,200 kg is a nasty thing on your roof top or beneath.

Advantages
- no aircraft to required to deliver it
- harder to intercept

Disadvantages
- More expensive than a GBU-31 (2,000 lb) (Not so sure because I do not know how to account the delivering aircraft like an F-35)
- Could be received as a nuclear attack by the enemy. Not so important against aggressors with out nukes but more and more have them. (Does the US have Nukes in Japan or only Guam?)

Regards,
MHalblaub

Anonymous said...

There is another use for 1st stage solid fuel booster, hypersonic conventional strike delivery platform, like China has been testing or what is being planned for Russia's Sarmat.

Mr. Trump will soon become the next POTUS.

Although we are speculating as to what will be the US next foreign policy strategies, we can look at Mr. Trump's domestic programs like the massive infrastructure investment he campaigned on, the $10B++ construction of the southern Wall, the coming tax cuts, the planned increased funding for the Pentagon to see that either the printing press will be working 24 hours, 7 days a week or allies like Japan, Germany, ROK need to do all the heavy lifting or both. Will there be any money left for patrolling the seas, even though sea power is always synanymous with great power. There is also the definite possibility of rising unrest in the US taking over the administration's agenda and focus.

Truth is the US led centric world order that is in effect after WW2 is fragmenting and crumbling down. TPP is dead, long live RCEP? It will not be Germany or Japan leaving the US alliance. There is no political or strategic gain in doing so. But it is the usefulness of alliances in the face of US isolationism. We only need to read the congratulatory message from Chancellor Merkel to President elect Trump, especially the conditions put forth on democratic values. Can alliances prosper or even survive when the majority of the people of 1 nation oppose a leader of another nation.
KQN

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub [at 12/11/16 11:53 PM] and KQN [13/11/16 12:45 PM]

You've provided some terrific comments which I'll respond to as a Report published in a day or two to Donors (including you guys).

I question the viability of global strike though.

On Prompt Global Strike (PGS) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prompt_Global_Strike the nuclear vs non-nuclear Ambiguity (problems of nuclear respones) of ballistic missile PGS seems to have frustrated US development of an actual weapon and internationally accepted doctrine.

PGS launched from satellites or other space platfoms eg. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_X-37 , may remove some ambiguity but would also introduce most of the weapons-from-space arms race escalations and tensions that the superpowers/great powers have luckily managed to avoid for decades.

I think also that the increasing nuclear armament of the likely recipients (North Korea, Iran etc) of PGS weapons has further reduced the viability of PGS strategies.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...


Hi Pete

Mr. Trump requested Japan for full burden of US forces station expenses in his election time, or he might consider withdraw of US forces frorm Japan. Just now, Trump adviser, Dr. Walid Phares said to Japanese TV that it was a business strategy of Mr. Trump.
Mr.Trump was introduced to be very brainy and listen to others. (http://p.jcc.jp/news/11581365/, Bankisha, NIPPON TV)

Regards
S

Anonymous said...

PM Abe is probably trying to understand and sound out President Trump's strategies in Asia this coming week. But I am also speculating that PM Abe is already hedging is own strategy given the newly minted nuclear cooperation pact with India, whom by some accounts already produced some 500+ devices.

Mr. Trump has many advisers but he listen to and trust just a handful. They are Donald Jr., Eric, Ivanka and her husband Jared. Jared came with Mr. Trump to the WH for the 1st meeting with Obama. There is a reason these four musketeers sit on the Transition team.
KQN

Peter Coates said...

Hi KQN [at 14/11/16 8:30 PM]

Your theory that "PM Abe is already hedging" is very interesting. India and Japan could initially share ballistic (eg. Epsilon) and cruise missile technology. Japan could transfer submarine technology.

In years to come India may choose to assist on nuclear weapoms and propulsion. That is, if Japan sees the strategic situation warrants going nuclear. Japan could do much of the weapons development quietly in India to avoid Japanese public opposition.

The Trump Happy Family look fake. I'm sure they will generate alot of drama.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Yesterday, PM Abe said that Japan will not does not have nuclear weapon [1] and suggested that he might refuse full burden of US forces station expenses for Japan [2].

As budget system of Japan is transparent, MoD can not develop nuclear weapon secretly. Some people misunderstand that Japan hides something [3, 4].

Mr. Trump is going to build fence and wall at border for Mexco and deport 2-3 million criminal illegal immigrants, trying to fit election promise with reality.

[1]http://jp.reuters.com/article/kishida-idJPKBN138022 (JPN)
[2]http://www.jiji.com/jc/article?k=2016111400512&g=pol (JPN)
[3]http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/seventy-years-after-deadly-raid-japanese-submarines-may-partner-australian-fleet-20120708-21pkx.html
"The Japanese submarine is out there, but it's an enigma," said Steve Ludlam, the chief executive of the Australian Submarine Corporation in Adelaide,”…Submarine Matters proved it is not enigma.
[4]At IWC meeting, then-Minister of Environment, Peter Garrett criticized that Japan did not disclose information on whaling. But, Japan held public briefings everyday, anyone could attend the briefings and ask freely, but, no Australian attended.
(I am not going to disccuss on whaling in Submarine Matters, I just showed example of way of thinking.)

Regards
S

Anonymous said...

With the coming isolationist and protectionist US administration, I believe it is inevitable there will be a strengthening of the India-Japan regional axis. I am guessing that Australia will be looking as well at further diversifying its strategic alliances. Unfortunately, US isolationism will seed further doubts into the worth of a US nuclear umbrella which was the de facto strategy after WW2. Leaders like PM Abe will have no choice but looking at alternatives.
Alternatives like rolling out a more elaborate ABM/LR-SAM umbrella. The Patriot Pac III is inadequate and Japan will need to complement the naval SM3 with either Aegis Ashore or David Sling/Arrow (why not).
The concern you raise with PGS is valid. My view is one could modify the Epsilon 1st stage into a quasi ballistic trajectory (especially with hypersonic MARV) so there is greater differentiation. One would trade off range but from a Japanese perspective, that can be a viable compromise.
KQN

Peter Coates said...

Hi KQN [at 15/11/16 7:08 AM]

All that you have written here makes sense. I'll write more in an Article or Report to Donors next week. Part of what I think is.

Even if US forces (as is likely) remained in Japan and South Korea the US will steadily become less likely to be prepared to go to nuclear war. This nuclear war would have been in response to a North Korean nuclear first strike against South Korea and Japan. The US recognises that China would backup North Korea with Chinese (extended in favour of NK) deterrence nuclear weapons.

Additionally China will steadily close the nuclear weapons gap (including effective Chinese SSBNs) that previously gave the US a huge deterrence advantage.

Japan and South Korea can talk and develop anti-missile defences against nuclear tipped ballistic and cruise missiles. But anti-missile defences will be far less effective against submarine launched NK missiles (lucky if 50% are shot down).

This means Japanese and South Korean owned nuclear weapon deterrence will be the minimal requirement North Korea will respect.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi S [at 15/11/16 3:53 AM]

What Abe says publically is for the public to hear. A nuclear weapons program would/will require CHANGE from the current honest-legal Japanese OPEN budgeting to a more secretive approach.

Typically nuclear weapon programs hide their whole costs and true nature:

- partly due to the enormity of costs (Israel, Pakistan, India, N Korea, South Africa - see [1] AND

- the need to keep (non-legal under the NPT) nuclear weapons programs secret (same 5 countries and South Africa).

A Japanese nuclear weapon program need not be allocated to the MOD budget. For example funds paid to corporate entities associated with the multi-Trillion Yen https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rokkasho_Reprocessing_Plant program.

- money then channeled to India, AND/OR

- Japanese Government could make secret agreements with the Indian Government to undertake the weapons development
: partly paid for eg. by free Japanese amphibious aircraft for India and Japan (for "free") could help Indian build 10 of these aircraft AND/OR

- on much larger scale barter Japanese submarine technology to India AND/OR

- Japan secretly agrees to pay India for the cost of the nuclear weapons program (developed in India) AFTER most of the program

- Japan agrees to work closely in military and intelligence alliance with India against their common enemy, CHINA.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Africa_and_weapons_of_mass_destruction#Nuclear_weapons

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Orgnization, resposiblity and authority for Japanese government are detaily and strictly specified by law. If Japanese nuclear weapon program exists, it is allocated to the MOD budget and is never allocated to the other governmental bodys. If the governmental bodys or other organizations receive fund from the government, they must make the detailed report, because Board of Audit (BoA) always requires the report.

Even if Japanese government studys development possibility of nuclear weapon, it never means planning of development possibility of nuclear weapon. If you talk about or study Islamic State, are you its member? I do not think so.

Is information disclosure of defense budget and weapon for other counrties crystal clear like Japan?

Regards
S

Peter Coates said...

Hi S [at 15/11/16 4:10 PM]

I admire your faith in the Japanese Government system (as its stands today).

I have some different beliefs regarding some laws. I believe those laws regarding fundamentally inhumane weapons systems belong to codified politics. Laws allow these weapons to legally (without trials or charges) kill people from other countries.

I'm mainly talking about Japan in 10+ years, facing greater strategic threats, including North Korean nuclear missile firing submarines. This will cause changes in Japanese Government thinking and the laws that it uses.

Already under prime Minister Abe there have been new ways of thinking about the Japanese armed forces' international roles and new thinking about Japanese weapon exports (including those of highly fatal submarines).

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

I highly appreciate stragetic thinking based on medium- and long-term outlook. It is really intelligent thinking. But, prediction of nucler armament of Japan seems to be jump to the conclusion.

As there are so many uncertainty factors (China-NK/Russia-Japan/SK-NK relationships, stability of NK, involvement of US government etc) in geopolitics of the Northeast Asia, geopolitical map in future is quite difficult to draw.

Though great strategic threats may provide considerable effect on Japanese policymaker, Japan will not develop nuclear weapon. Because, too much lose and too little gain. Japan has gained an international reputation by its peaceful policy and international aid. Development of nuclear weapon will all of these efforts.

Regards
S

Anonymous said...

In Asia, there are 2 non democratic governments that have access to nuclear weapons. Assuming (for now) that the US umbrella is non existent, what are the options available for democratically elected governments in ROK and Japan? Deterrence is one.
At the same time, US isolationism is already weakening and will further weaken international agreements and bodies like NPT, WTO and even ONU.
If we take Mr. Trump at face value, then we see a person who likes to deal. After all he wrote "the art of the deal". He also said "I alone.." and as most strongmen, he will prefer to deal directly with Mr Xi and Mr. Putin to divide the world among themselves. Minor items like human rights among other things will just be brushed off the table. Let's we not forget, at Yalta, Eastern Europe was sacrificed and its fate sealed. So for Japan, ROK and the rest, it is best not to rely on that US umbrella. If it comes, it is for the better. If it does not come, you are ready as well.
Just as expected, Mr. Trump's sons and daughter are being vetted for top security clearance.
KQN

Peter Coates said...

Probably comforting for Japan http://thediplomat.com/2016/11/trump-faces-early-foreign-policy-test-with-abe-meeting/

Peter Coates said...

Hi KQN [at 16/11/16 6:21 AM]

Very interesting arguments you set out including "Assuming (for now) that the US umbrella is non existent."

In support of what you have written - unfortunately I think there is an incompatibility between businessman-Trump cutting a deal AND maintaining the US provided extended nuclear deterrence umbrella for Japan and South Korea (ROK).

In NE Asia the US extended nuclear deterrence umbrella requires Trump's-US preparedness to go to MAD nuclear war/exchange with North Korea and NK's backer, China. This may entail millions of US deaths if China exchanges.

Simply put - a US businessman, cutting a deal, doesn't include his own bodily (or his country's) destruction as part of a deal.

So with this Trump-US behavioral constant in mind, Japan and ROK need to build their own deterrence.

France has been through this thinking process. France also suspected US resolve vis a vis Russia and the French also wanted to deter a German invasion sometime AFTER WWII. So Frenchmen and French-Canadians (actually from the time of the UK "Tube Alloys" Project and then the 1942- Manhattan Project) began planning then building the nuclear deterent force France enjoys today.

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

When we respond to the issues, we should prepare its solution. Nuclear armament of Japan agaist threat of NK and China is miniscaled reappearance of Cold War which was proved to be endless war of attrition. We have better avoit such a silly option, because its solution is the massive national fatigue and pain.

Fortunately, Japanese government is realizing that the concept, “Rule of Law” is very effevtive after defeat in Hugue by Australia. The Philippines won the case of the South Chine Sea in the internation court and many countires support the Philippines. Currently, the counrties can refuse the dicision by the internation court and dissemination of this concept is time-consuming, but, it offers better solution and gathers international support.

Regards
S

Peter Coates said...

Hi S [16/11/16 6:54 PM]

"Rule of Law" (including the NPT) hasn't stopped North Korea developing nuclear weapons and long range missiles for the last few decades. NK simply walked away from the NPT "Rule of Law" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_on_the_Non-Proliferation_of_Nuclear_Weapons#North_Korea

Now North Korea is developing nuclear missile submarines thereby putting Japan in even more peril.

"Rule of Law" hasn't stopped China from pressing its ownership of South China Sea claim. Instead China has succesfully bribed the Philippines to disregard the Hague South China Sea ruling.

Only US protection allows Japan to truly believe "Rule of Law" is more significant than power politics.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

I did not explain needs for mid or long term defense, because it is obvious. The concept, “Rule of Law” is goal. I do not think that we can suppress military threat of NK by this concept.

Japan should denfend her territory and patiently persuade China to respect international law.

Critism, “Only US protection allows Japan to truly believe Rule of Law is more significant than power politics” is right. But, even if it is hypocritical, do something is better than do nothing.

Regards
S

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Japanese government decided around 5.1 trion yen of FY2017 defense budget in cluding building of new submarine, while J Ministry of Defnese asked for 5.17 trion yen and FY2016 defense buget was 5.05 trion yen. FY20I7 budget for Japana Coast Guard will increase [1,2].

The new submarine will equip with modified propulsion motors and diesel generaters.

PM Abe will visit Australia, Philippines and Vietnam next January [2, 3]. PM Abe and PM Turnbull will discuss on TPP and the South China Sea.

[1]http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20161210-00000012-asahi-pol
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Coast_Guard
Japan Coast Guard (JCG) belongs to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and does not belong to MoD. Being different from JMDF which is a tigner but never bite, JCG is a small dog but bites very painfully as shown in battle of Amami-Ōshima (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Amami-%C5%8Cshima), where JCG sank NK spy ship armed with rocket artillery RPG-7, anti aircraft guns and mashine guns.
[3]http://www.jiji.com/jc/article?k=2016120500579&g=pols
[4]http://www.afr.com/news/japanese-prime-minister-shinzo-abe-likely-to-visit-australia-in-january-20161208-gt6pxz

Regards
S

Peter Coates said...

Hi S [at 10/12/16 11:15 AM]

Here an English language article http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612100041.html much in agreement with your http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20161210-00000012-asahi-pol and description. Trump will be happier with a larger Japanesee defence budget.

Trump will be/is more compatible with the conservative Abe than centrist Obama (and Kerry) were to Abe.

Its interesting (in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Amami-%C5%8Cshima ) how Japan's Coast Guard can actually fight a country-based vessel - ie. the N Korean "spy" vessel. So its not just pirates and smuggler vessels. China's Coast Guard is also confronting Southeast Asian naval vessels.

When Shinzo Abe visits Australia (January 2017) he will of course meet PM Turnbull. But the centrist Turnbull only has a weak majority in Parliament - so is proving a weak leader pressured by the conservative wing of his government (a wing more like Abe).

Regards

Pete