TOKYO -- The national security panel of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party plans to recommend that the country acquire the ability to strike enemy bases in the case of an imminent threat.
Former Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto told a Friday meeting attended by members of the panel and others that Japan needs "the ability to attack enemy bases," showing his support for the idea. The panel will likely urge the government to consider this matter in recommendations expected to be presented as early as this spring.
North Korea advanced its ballistic missile technology through a series of tests in 2016. In response, Japan's Self-Defense Forces are working to strengthen their missile intercept system. But some in the LDP argue that Japan can defend itself more effectively if it can destroy enemy bases before missiles are launched.
Pre-emptive strike capability, however, is a tricky issue for Japan, whose constitution limits the use of force to cases of self-defense. To strike an enemy before being attacked without violating the constitution, the government must be able to determine with certainty that the enemy intends to attack Japan. In reality, though, Tokyo does not have the means for gathering the intelligence needed to make such a determination on its own.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a Diet session Feb. 14 that the government has no plans to gain the ability to strike enemy bases. However, he also indicated his government does not intend to do nothing. "We should always be examining our options to see what is possible," the prime minister noted.