Dynamic Institutionalization: The Foundations of Japan's Radioactive Problem
Kodama, Hayate Nicholas
Cha, Victor D
This thesis examines Japan’s policies of implementing a closed nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear hedging. Many scholars have argued that Japan specifically pursues closed fuel cycle development in order to maintain the technologies necessary to build nuclear weapons. However, closer examination of the development of Japan’s nuclear industry shows that although Japan does indeed follow a strategy of nuclear hedging, Japan’s continued development of closed fuel cycle technologies is not driven by the goal of maintaining a latent nuclear weapons capability. To illustrate this point, this thesis presents a conceptual framework called “dynamic institutionalization” to explain the origins of Japan’s nuclear policies and the different sets of institutionalized pressures and constraints that have perpetuated these policies over time. The primary motive behind Japan’s initial pursuit of a closed fuel cycle was to increase energy independence, but difficulties in implementing key technologies and domestic political pressures have turned reprocessing into Japan’s de facto spent fuel management solution. On the other hand, Japan’s strategy of nuclear hedging was institutionalized following the explicit extension of the U.S. nuclear umbrella to Japan in 1965. This hedge is perpetuated by the calculus that although Japan possesses the capability to develop nuclear weapons, its security is best guaranteed through reliance on U.S. extended deterrence. By separating the policy of pursuing a closed fuel cycle from the strategic calculus of nuclear hedging, this thesis provides a comprehensive assessment of the different variables perpetuating Japan’s nuclear policies. Reassurance of U.S. extended deterrence plays an important role in dissuading Japan from pursuing the nuclear option, but it has little effect on Japan’s closed fuel cycle ambitions.
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