Thesis Title

House of the Rising Sun: a Glimpse Into the Future of Japanese Nuclear Deterrence

Date of Graduation

Spring 2006


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Bradley Thayer


The purpose of this thesis is to examine what shape a nuclear force structure would take should Japan seek to develop a nuclear deterrence option given an aggressive move made by one of its neighbors, such as if China staged an invasion of Taiwan. It is my contention that this force structure would be strongly affected by the continued presence and approval of the United States who would coordinate with the Japanese on this matter in the role of supervising body. The resultant force structure would than be a strong reflection of those American influences coupled with the unique security dilemma which Japan will likely face in the coming decades. I approached the situation by first establishing that the greatest threats to Japan can be found in the countries of North Korea and China as stipulated in Japan’s FY 2005 National Defense Program Outline. Using these two nations as a base for orientating the required force structure, I then continued on to include both Russia and the United States as potential hostiles based on past relationships, technical capability, and presence of cooperative efforts. After exploring the assets which Japan possess now, and the changes that would need to be made within the existing forces structure, I came to the conclusion that Japan is well situated in terms of military capabilities to field a limited yet effective nuclear arsenal within a short period of time. This could be done with a minimum of time using pre-existing technology and training standards to ensure a smooth transition.


Japan, nuclear, deterrence, China, United States

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© James M. Haynes