Just hours before US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Tokyo, Foreign Minister Taro Aso came out in favor of a debate, saying it was "important to discuss various possibilities" when a neighboring country has nuclear weapons.
But following his meeting with Rice, Aso insisted that "there is no need for Japan to arm itself with nuclear weapons as we have the security commitment of the United States.
As to the Japanese nuclear option, I think the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister have already spoken to that, that that is not the route that Japan will pursue. I believe that the U.S. commitment -- defense commitment, umbrella if you will, is a very powerful commitment to Japan, and it is one that we fundamentally will carry out.
The United States has had a defense commitment to Japan. We have been working on modernizing our defense capabilities, particularly over the last several years. I have myself sat in now on our so called 2+2 talks where Don Rumsfeld and I joined the Foreign Minister and Defense Minister of Japan. We've worked hard on all aspects of our defense relationship, and I do not think it could be stronger. It is a very, very strong relationship. And because this region cannot be stable -- if North Korea believes it can take advantage of our allies, and because an unstable Northeast Asia would be a threat to the security of the United States, the United States has every reason for its own security to be firm in its commitment to Japan and to South Korea. And I think if you understand it in that way, it's not just a U.S. commitment to the defense of Japan, it is that the U.S. commitment to the defense of Japan is essential for American security. That's how we see it. And so I think Japan can feel secure in America's commitment.
We would like to do more work on missile defense. We would like to do more work on sensor technologies, on intelligence sharing. These are all ways that we can make our alliance stronger. But absolutely no one should have any reason to doubt the very firm commitment of the United States has to the defense of Japan.