Updated June. 21, 2012 23:18
The South Korean government on Thursday hurriedly began to collect information about a Japanese news report saying the upper house of Japan`s parliament passed a bill to strengthen its nuclear regulations after adding a highly controversial clause of security guarantee to the bill.
Seoul seemed embarrassed because it was unaware of the clause that the Japanese Diet inserted at the last minute without undergoing public debate.
Han Hye-jin, a spokeswoman of South Korea`s Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry, told reporters that South Korea was closely watching the situation in Japan while trying to figure out what exactly the clause meant and what impact it would have.
Government officials in Seoul showed a cautious attitude, saying it is almost impossible for Japan to use its nuclear development for military purposes.
It is impossible for the Japanese people, who are extremely sensitive about building a new nuclear power plant since the Fukushima meltdown last year, to condone Japans nuclear armament, one official said. The Japanese media might have exaggerated the meaning of security guarantee.`"
Experts also downplayed the notion that Japan will pursue nuclear armament.
There are people in Japan who urge that their country get nuclear arms but they comprise a minority, said Lee Won-deok, a professor of international politics at Kookmin University in Seoul. Few politicians would dare take steps for nuclear armament despite the political risk ahead of national elections.
At a time when the arms race is heating up in Northeast Asia because of North Koreas nuclear development, Japans discussion of nuclear armament, per se, could serve as a major factor escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula. Because China is actively building up its military, certain experts say Japans right-wing groups and politicians will likely press for nuclear armament on the basis of the added clause.
Due to such possibilities, voices in South Korea warn that Seoul might lose out in a nuclear race while advising denuclearization. The fears could boost those who urge Seoul to get nuclear sovereignty.
Rep. Chung Mong-joon, former chairman of South Koreas ruling Saenuri Party and a presidential hopeful, said earlier this month that Seoul should possess nuclear weapons in the face of Pyongyang`s claim that it is a nuclear state.
Peace cannot be secured without the balance of fear, or nuclear weapons for nuclear weapons, he said.