Japan does not rule out the possibility of its troops acquiring the capability to conduct preemptive strikes against enemy bases as a way to deal with launches of ballistic missiles by North Korea, its defense minister said Thursday. “We will consider various measures” in line with the limits of international law and the Japanese Constitution, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada told the House of Representatives Committee on Security. Article 9 of the Constitution states that the Japanese people “forever renounce war” and the “use of force” as a means of settling international disputes.
While noting that the government is not currently considering giving the Self-Defense Forces such capability, Inada suggested that doing so and conducting such strikes is legally possible. North Korea has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests recently in defiance of international calls not to do so, including launching four that fell into and near waters in Japan’s exclusive economic zone on Monday.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a Diet committee on Jan. 26 that Japan is open to acquiring enemy base strike capability, saying that Japan needs to consider how to maintain its own deterrence. A team of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party led by Abe is also studying the possibility of Japan acquiring such as capability.