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LDP avoids using the term “counterattack capability to strike enemy missile bases” in missile defense proposal

  • August 5, 2020
  • , Yomiuri , p. 4
  • JMH Translation

On Aug. 4, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) submitted to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a set of recommendations regarding enhancing the nation’s missile defense. The LDP proposal was restrained. Regarding the capability to strike enemy bases, the proposal showed consideration to those cautious about such a move and called for the government to maintain its policy [of not possessing offensive weapons], a stance which has served to halt any momentum in that direction in the past. In the recent proposal, the ruling party did not use the term “counterattack capability to strike enemy missile bases,” which it used in its proposal in 2017.


On Aug. 4, Abe told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office [Kantei], “I have received the set of recommendations, which calls for new efforts to be made to maintain the basic role-sharing between Japan and the U.S. and to enhance deterrence capability under our exclusively defensive stance while complying with international law within the bounds of the Constitution.” He thus underscored that there is no change in Japan’s conventional interpretation of the Constitution or in the “spear and shield” role-sharing between the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and the U.S. Forces. 


When Abe received the proposals before the press conference, he reportedly confirmed with former Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, who heads the LDP team that drew up the proposal, asking him if “these recommendations can be conducted under the existing Constitution and international law within the scope of our exclusively defensive posture.” 


The main focus of the LDP committee’s discussions on the proposal was how to phrase the capability to attack enemy bases. The LDP decided not to use the terms “enemy base” and “counterattack,” which it used in its 2017 proposal, and instead laid out the goal of “possessing the capability to block ballistic missiles and the like even in an opponent’s territory.”


Onodera said, “Using such terms as ‘enemy base’ and ‘counterattack’ runs the risk of giving the impression of a ‘preemptive attack,’” explaining that the new expression is intended to prevent misunderstandings. Another source pointed out that Japan can no longer use the limited word “enemy base” because North Korea has begun to use transporter erector launchers (TEL).


Some people believe that the LDP’s latest proposal gave consideration to its coalition partner, Komeito. A mid-career LDP member says the latest package “is a backward step from the 2017 proposal” because it does not refer to such specific equipment as “cruise missiles,” which was included in the past proposal.

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