By Takahiro Okubo
On July 15, Komeito’s research commission on diplomacy and security met at the Diet building to engage in full-fledged discussions on alternatives to the recently abandoned Aegis Ashore land-based missile defense system. The commission members reaffirmed the party’s cautious stance on Japan’s acquiring the capability to “attack enemy bases.” For the time being, the commission does not plan to even initiate a discussion on the topic.
During the meeting, Chairman Shigeki Sato requested the government to provide a detailed explanation of the background that led to the decision to cancel the Aegis Ashore deployment plan. The meeting participants also asked the government about Japan’s missile defense after the cancellation of the plan, saying, “Japan must have an alternative plan to fill the hole in our comprehensive missile defense,” and “Japan needs a plan to respond to saturation attacks (where the enemy launches more missiles than Japan has).”
After the meeting, Masakazu Hamachi, commission secretary general, said, “there was absolutely no discussion of the capability to attack enemy bases.” Sato said, “This is strictly a defense issue,” stressing the party’s intention to pursue rebuilding the country’s missile defense system. Sato expressed displeasure toward the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is eager to discuss acquiring attack capabilities.
The Komeito commission plans to meet twice a month from now on. Their plan is to distinguish themselves from the LDP by not considering the capability to attack enemy bases until the government clarifies its policy on the matter. At a press briefing on July 14, Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi made a statement intended to caution the LDP: “In our discussions, we must make sure that we avoid adopting a policy that escalates international tensions.” (Slightly abridged)