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Latest Policy Briefs and Reports

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Conceptual Twist of Japanese Nuclear Policy: Its Ambivalence and Coherence Under the US Umbrella

Policy Brief  No.11 - April, 2018

Despite its anti-nuclear weapon declaratory-policy,“Three Non-Nuclear Principles,” Japan has enjoyed the protection of the nuclear umbrella provided by the United States for more than 60 years. This bilateral nuclear arrangement has established and cherished a strong bond between the two nations, which the author calls “the US–Japan Nuclear Alliance.” This unique politico-military alliance, backed by US nuclear forces, has brought about a “conceptual twist” of Japanese security policy related to nuclear weapons. The twist can be analysed in terms of two characteristic elements: ambivalence and coherence. This twist is a result of several factors, including Japan’s unprecedented experience of the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, Japan’s anti-nuclear public sentiment, the Japanese security policy discourse delineated by Cold War strategies of the US, and Tokyo’s acceptance of the US nuclear umbrella. These factors have forced Japanese conservative governments, including the current Abe administration, to perform Nuclear Kabuki Play resulting from the ambivalence and coherence that characterize Japan’s security policy. Abe’s opposition to a No First Use (NFU) policy and Japan’s calibrated approach to the newly adopted nuclear weapon ban treaty are closely associated with Japanese ambivalence and coherence toward nuclear weapons and related security issues.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Bridging the Gap: Harmonizing the NPT and the Nuclear Ban Treaty Workshop Recommendations

Summary Report  No.10 - March, 2018

The Toda Peace Institute, the Asia Pacific Leadership Network (APLN), the European Leadership Network (ELN), and Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) launched the project ‘Bridging the Gap: Harmonizing the NPT and the Nuclear Ban Treaty’ with the objective to enhance convergence between the NPT and Nuclear Ban Treaty to positively influence the 2020 NPT Conference and strengthen the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime. To this end, the partner institutions organized a workshop with key policy experts, government representatives and practitioners on 22 and 23 March 2018 in Seoul, Republic of Korea. In July 2017, 122 states voted to adopt a new Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty (Ban Treaty/NWPT). It is the first treaty to ban the possession, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, thereby closing the legal gap on the prohibition of all classes of weapons of mass destruction. While advocates of the Ban Treaty have been at pains to underline the complementarities with the NPT, the five nuclear weapon states have argued that the new treaty is a potential threat to the credibility and authority of the NPT. The ‘Bridging the Gap’ project addresses the looming issues surrounding the effectively bifurcated global nuclear order with two treaties now in existence to set nuclear policy directions and norms. The group identified that the potential areas that need to be reconciled between the NPT and NWPT include safeguard standards; testing; stationing; the meaning and scope of assistance and encouragement to other states engaged in activities prohibited under the NWPT (i.e. support for nuclear deterrence postures); institutional arrangements for review, amendments, verification and enforcement; and linkage with the non-NPT nuclear-armed states.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Harmonizing the NPT and Ban Treaty in Nuclear Risk Reduction Measures by Possessor States

Policy Brief  No.9 - March, 2018

The international community has sought to address the challenges of nuclear risks that have existed since the beginning of the nuclear age by expressing abhorrence at the thought of nuclear weapons being used again. These efforts have ensured that the nuclear taboo has held and despite conflicts involving nuclear weapon states or their allies, nuclear weapons have not been used. With the return of inter-state strategic competition among major powers, technological developments and the shift of the geopolitical centre of gravity to the Indo–Pacific, the world is witnessing an age of nuclear asymmetry and a shift towards more usable nuclear weapons. Bilateral arms control no longer seems possible and among the multilateral instruments, the NPT has exhausted its normative potential while the NWPT is yet to gain the desired political legitimacy and authority. Today’s challenge is to ensure that both co-exist, without one weakening the other while incremental steps are taken to maintain the nuclear taboo until such time as nuclear threats are indeed eliminated by all possessor states, including those not party to the NPT.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Towards a Nuclear Restraint Regime: From a Normative Ban Treaty to a Substantive Agenda

Policy Brief  No.8 - March, 2018

Many strategic analysts fear that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons may widen the rift between the nuclear weapons states and the non-NWS by stigmatizing the nuclear weapon possessors rather than the weapons. The pertinent questions are therefore how to translate the normative pressure that the treaty poses into something more substantive? Can some measures be identified for the NWS to take, and for the non-NWS to encourage them into taking, to promote its objectives? Can bridges be built between the positions of NWS and non-NWS; and between adversarial nuclear rivals? This paper argues that the pathway to elimination is as important as the process of elimination itself. It suggests a nuclear restraint regime that addresses many dimensions of nuclear weapons deployment – their role, targets, force postures, types and numbers, and also the circumstances in which they are employed. Each restraint would circumscribe the role of nuclear weapons, and as the circle of their utility becomes smaller, eventual elimination will become possible.

Peace and Security in Northeast Asia

US-North Korea Nuclear Summit: Assessing China's Exclusion Anxiety

Policy Brief  No.7 - March, 2018

This paper explores China’s relationship with North Korea. In particular it focuses attention on China’s leverage in relation to the DPRK’s nuclear and missile development programme. The recent announcement of direct talks between the leaders of North Korea and the United States on these and other issues creates both opportunities and concerns for China. On the one hand China has expressed support for a positive outcome. On the other, these talks reinforce Chinese anxieties about being excluded from the discussions and the detrimental consequences of this exclusion. This anxiety comes on top of a generalised concern about either a conventional or nuclear war on China’s border. This article explores these dilemmas as China ponders its role in Korean and wider East Asian affairs.