Trump and Japan: Much ado about nuclear

Soryu-56559The false outrage over Trump’s comments about a nuclear Japan.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is taking flak from not only from Republicans and Democrats here in the United States, but it would seem that more than a few Japanese politicians are distancing themselves from the GOP front runner’s recent comments regarding the nuclearization of our East Asian allies. As reported by Frances Martel of the Breitbart.com news portal on Apr. 1, 2016, Trump’s mere insinuation that both Japan and the Republic of Korea go nuclear has in itself caused quite the melt-down, both in Washington, DC and Tokyo.

During the course of the Republican presidential primary season, Trump has made no secret that he openly questions the status quo of hundreds of thousands of American troops and their equipment, at the cost of billions of dollars annually, perpetually stationed in the Far East and Europe to protect our allies from the likes of Russia, China and North Korea. However, during a town hall discussion on hosted by CNN, Trump plainly stated that the United States “can’t afford to do it anymore.”

“At some point we have to say, you know what, we’re better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea,” he argued, adding, “I would rather see Japan having some form of defense, and maybe even offense against North Korea, because we’re not pulling the trigger.” When advocating that our South Korea allies should start kicking in more for their own self-defense, Trump sloughed off concerns of a nuclear-armed South Korea, opining “it’s going to happen, anyway.”

With nothing more than the insinuation Japan should develop their own nuclear arsenal, it was then the kabuki theater began. The Obama administration called Trump’s comments “ridiculous.” The Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun (Morning Sun News) describes their attitude as being filled with “bewilderment and unease.”

Yet arguably the most honest comment originated from the office of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (pronounced Ah-bay). The PM refused to give his opinion, calling any statement he could on the subject “improper.” And the very real reason Prime Minister Abe refuses to comment is because Japan already has nuclear weapons. Or as described in the often hush-hush world of nuclear armament, Japan is “a single turn of the screwdriver” away from the tactical deployment of what’s often called “Japan’s bomb in the basement.”

As published by NBC News in 2014, Japan “now has 9 tons of plutonium stockpiled at several locations in Japan and another 35 tons stored in France and the U.K. The material is enough to create 5,000 nuclear bombs. The country also has 1.2 tons of enriched uranium.”

NBC News did correctly point out that simply having the material to create a nuke doesn’t necessarily equate to actually having a functioning nuclear device. However, it was also correctly cited that if the Tokyo government was ever so inclined to stand-up a nuclear arsenal, Japan’s scientists and engineers would take between six months to two years to go from raw product to functioning, deployed weapons.

And what many don’t want to talk about – Japan may have already done so. But even if Japan hasn’t actually manufactured their own nuclear weapons, they already have the delivery systems. As noted by the American Center for Democracy, the American built Harpoon missile is easily convertible from conventional to nuclear warheads. Already understood in the world’s military circles is that an unknown quantity of Harpoons the US has sent to Israel for their rather formidable and never spoken of submarine fleet have already been reconfigured to launch nuclear-tipped Harpoon missiles.

As cited by The National Interest foreign policy centered website, at least two of Japan’s class of warships are already armed with Harpoons. On the cutting edge of technology, Japan’s Atago-class Aegis Destroyers and Soryu-class Submarines would be only the maritime nuclear strike arm.

The Federation of American Scientists notes that if converted to delivering a nuclear payload, Japan’s M-V missile is designed to carry a two ton payload. Comparable to that weight would be the long since retired American W-35 warhead. Now considered a dinosaur, at best, the W-35 weighed in at 1,700 pounds, and had a yield of 1.75 megatons (MT) of explosive power.

A singular 1.75 megaton nuclear bomb would be equal to the effect of exploding 1.75 million tons (3.5 billion pounds) of TNT. If a 1.75 MT bomb were to be detonated in mid-town Manhattan the estimated fatalities would be 2 million, while the estimated injury count would be 3.2 million.

With a fireball of 1 kilometer in radius, everything from Hell’s Kitchen to 57th St to 3d Ave to 31st St would be vaporized — instantly. The airblast would be 7.5 km, ensuring almost all of Manhattan island along with all of Union City, Hoboken and North Bergen, NJ would cease to exist. Most of Brooklyn, some of the Bronx, and much of Jersey City would also be wiped off the map.

The thermal radiation radius would be slightly greater than 13 km, ensuring that every human caught in the open between 7.5 km and 13 km from ground zero would certainly suffer at least 3d degree burns over most of their body. That would equate to an area roughly from Bayonne to Hackensack to Flushing Meadows to the northernmost tip of Staten Island.

[Editor’s note: Of course, the impact would be much, much worse when one considers the damage to the infrastructure, etc.  Then there’s fallout, which could be devastating if this were a ground blast versus an air blast.  And let’s not forget casualties from secondary projectiles like flying glass, etc.]


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