I don’t think many informed commentators really thought the calls of Nakasone and others would lead to a nuclear Japan any time soon, but it’s notable that Prime Minister Abe Shinzo pledged to Chinese President Hu Jintao at the APEC summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, that Japan would remain a non-nuclear state. Indeed, if a Japanese government decided to develop a nuclear capability, it would be soon in coming. But because the Japanese public still opposes a nuclear military—and, perhaps more significantly, Japan has no immediate need for a non-U.S. deterrent—Japan has little motivation to apply its nuclear savvy to weaponry.
According to Reuters: “Our country is the only one in the world to have suffered a nuclear attack,” Abe said. “We have to take the lead in persuading the world to give up nuclear weapons.”
Which implies the reduction of U.S. and Russian arsenals and a commitment to nonproliferation in general. We’ll see what this rhetoric amounts to.