Intelligence Report: The Outlook for Nuclear Weapons Production in Japan

Date of report: August 2, 1957
Nautilus publication date: October 29, 2013


After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, postwar Japanese public opinion was largely opposed to the production of nuclear weapons. Even against this opposition, the conservative Japanese government in the 1950s considered the idea viable as the Far East region became a hotbed for Cold War tensions. Stuck between the belief that nuclear weapons are key to Japan’s defense and appeasing the public opinion that the production would not occur, then-Prime Minister Kishi was not able to produce nuclear weapons. Although there are current atomic weapons in Japan, Japan’s technology, material, and capital makes it possible for them to produce the weapons within a very short time.

This 1957 report examines Japan’s capabilities and factors if nuclear weapons are produced, the large public opposition, the international responses, and the political and economic consequences.

“Japan is rich in scientific talent and technological resourcefulness, and is capable of developing novel weapons which could have an unanticipated military effectiveness. Within the next decade, however, it is unlike that Japan, even with the exercise of greater decisiveness and economic effort than seems reasonable to expect, would be able to produce more than a limited number and range of nuclear weapons, possibly rather primitive in design.”[page 8]

This report was released to the Nautilus Institute under the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

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