Home > Japan, News > Japan to Iran: seek ‘restraint’ on its nuclear programme – But isn’t Fukushima in Japan?

Japan to Iran: seek ‘restraint’ on its nuclear programme – But isn’t Fukushima in Japan?

April 24, 2012

Former Prime Minister Hatoyama in Iran urging the Iranian government to give up its nuclear programme Source: AFP

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama made a visit to Iran in April, discussed Iran’s nuclear programme and his the desire for it to engage in talks with western powers. The Japanese government, saying the former prime minister acted in his own capacity, had requested him not to go.

Hatoyama reportedly said, “Japan believes that no nation in the world should possess weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear ones, and that the peaceful use of nuclear energy is the right of all countries” (here). The problem is that there is no evidence that the Iranians have a nuclear weapon or are on the verge of building one; even the US takes the position that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon. Though against the trip, Prime Minister Noda “said he hoped the former DPJ leader would seek ‘restraint’ from Tehran on its nuclear program, in line with Tokyo’s official stance.”

One might understand the concern Japanese have for nuclear weapons, but this cannot be the problem since – as mentioned – Iran has no such weapons. Is there a problem with Iran’s use of nuclear energy at its power plants? Perhaps, but it is possible Iran will be returning to talks soon. Are there questions or problems with Iran’s enrichment? Quite possibly there are. But if there are, there is a body set up to deal with it: the IAEA.

One might ask what position Japan is in for it to discuss nuclear problems. Fukushima is the world’s second worst nuclear disaster and it is still not under control, despite government assurances to the contrary. Fukushima is not in Tehran. The irony of Japan discussing its concerns about another country’s nuclear programme at a time when it does not have the technology to end the disaster is a fact the Iranians will not have missed. One wonders if the Iranians would have replied to Noda’s comment by saying: Sure, we will be happy to comply. After you seek restraint on the massive radioactive releases in the disaster called Fukushima.

Iran has no nuclear weapons programme. Japan has an ongoing nuclear disaster and yet the world focuses its attention on Iran. Why? This question is not even being asked in the mainstream press.

Of further interest is the difficult position Tokyo now finds itself in due to US economic warfare against Iran. US rules and sanctions now prevent countries like Japan from importing oil at the same levels it did a short time ago. This means Japan must continue reducing its purchases of Iranian oil if it wants to avoid the effects of the US sanctions. It is a delicate diplomatic problem indeed, and this trip by Hatoyama may have come at a time when Tokyo would rather talk about something else. But then again, “restraint” is a word from the current Prime Minister, not the former, Hatoyama.

At any rate, Hatoyama is keenly aware of the delicate situation (read oil problem), and is reported to have “said the purpose of his four-day visit is to urge the Iranian government to give up its nuclear program” (see here). What nuclear programme? If it is for civilian use, does not the NPT treaty allow for it?  Did the UN’s sanctions interfere with this? In reality, Japan may prefer to keep things quiet and hope a deal can be reached whereby sanctions against Iran are removed and Japan can continue to purchase its oil.

The Yomiuri newspaper hinted at the power struggle between unelected officials and politicians when it quoted a politician, who supported the Hatoyama trip, said: “Japan’s diplomatic power is weak because it depends solely on Foreign Ministry diplomats. Lawmakers should go abroad and state Japan’s position more actively” (see here). Exerting the power of elected officials was one of the main goals of the Hatoyama administration back when it took office in 2009.

Civis Journal

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