Date of Graduation

Spring 2023


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Kerry Kartchner


Acquiring nuclear weapons of its own has been inconsistent with Japan’s post-Cold War strategic culture, which is heavily based on an identity and associated norms grounded in nuclear pacifism. However, Japan’s strategic culture has been evolving with changing threat perceptions, eroding international nuclear nonproliferation norms, and declining confidence in US security guarantees. As Japan’s strategic culture shifts towards a more pragmatic interpretation of its national interests, acquiring nuclear weapons may become a more easily legitimized option, one that would be entirely consistent with a remilitarized strategic culture. Scholarship on Japanese strategic culture is vast but lacks a strategic culture explanation for why contemporary Japan would pursue nuclear weapons. Pre-1945, Japan was an inward-oriented militaristic state. Post-1945, Japan became an outward-oriented pacifist state following its defeat in the Second World War. Japan rejected having its own nuclear weapons in congruence with pacifism and improving international relations to aid in the survival of the Japanese state. Japan relies on US extended nuclear deterrence for protection, but Japan’s confidence in US security guarantees is decaying. As the US perceivably declines, Japan’s security environment is becoming more hostile. If Japan decides to pursue developing nuclear weapons for domestic security, strategic culture can explain Japan’s decision due to the factors of nuclear latency, interpretation of article 9 in Japan’s constitution, Japan’s adherence to the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (PNWT), and Japan’s confidence in US security guarantees. The previously mentioned factors may force Japan to adapt its pre-1945 strategic culture for the pursuit and development of nuclear weapons to ensure the survival of Japan.


Japan, strategic culture, nuclear weapons, pacifism, remilitarization, nuclear latency, Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, US security guarantees

Subject Categories

Asian Studies | Defense and Security Studies


© Logan Joseph Douglas Campbell

Open Access