Russia's nuclear forces have been put on full alert in response to orders from President Vladimir Putin. Moscow is threatening Ukraine and the West with nuclear weapons, and has expressed its willingness to use them if necessary.
This is a nefarious threat that is simply unforgivable.
To bring up the possible use of nuclear weapons in addition to invading another country is outrageous. It is an extremely dangerous situation.
Putin's orders came three days after Russian forces invaded Ukraine. It had been reported that Putin was getting frustrated, as military operations were not going the way he had hoped.
Even if intimidation is the purpose for mentioning nuclear weapons, if the course of the war changes for the worse for Russia, the risks rise dramatically. Putin has revealed that when Russia annexed Crimea eight years ago, he tried to mobilize nuclear forces.
In neighboring Belarus, which cooperated with Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a constitutional amendment that makes the deployment of nuclear weapons possible was approved. There is a chance that the nuclear threat will increase even further.
Russia's nuclear forces that are said to be combat-ready are capable of striking the West. This is likely an aim to retaliate against the West for its economic sanctions, including banning Russia from the SWIFT global financial system.
Putin has repeatedly said that Russia is a nuclear superpower, and at the same time has lowered the bar for the first use of nuclear weapons. There is a need for various countries to stand together against such dangerous speech.
And it was in the middle of all this that former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a statement that made us question what we were hearing. Abe said that there was a need to discuss the issue of nuclear sharing between Japan and the U.S., a policy that would allow the U.S. to deploy nuclear weapons to Japan.
Japan is the only country that has experienced nuclear bombings, and maintains the three nonnuclear principles of not producing, possessing or allowing nuclear arms on its territory. Not only would nuclear sharing go against this policy, but it would relinquish our national goal of abolishing nuclear weapons. It is only natural that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida immediately said that it would be unacceptable for Japan to make a nuclear sharing arrangement with the U.S.
What Japan should be pursuing is not to reinforce its dependence on nuclear weapons by taking advantage of a crisis. What Japan should be doing is evoking the idea of "a world without nuclear weapons" once again, and bringing the global community together.
If nuclear weapons are used, the post-World War II nuclear management system will fall apart. What will expand before us will be a world that is terrified of nuclear war.
What is being sought now is the international community's resolve not to let that happen.