Japan’s ruling party urged the government Thursday to consider arming the country with more advanced and offensive military capabilities, such as striking enemy targets with cruise missiles, further loosening the self-defense-only posture Japan has maintained since the end of World War II.
The Liberal Democratic Party’s council on defense policy urged the government to immediately start studying ways to bolster Japan’s capability to intercept missiles with a system such as the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, that the U.S. and Seoul have agreed to install in South Korea.
The panel cited a “new level of threat” from North Korea, which fired four missiles this month, three of them landing inside Japan-claimed exclusive economic waters.
“North Korea’s provocative acts have reached a level that Japan absolutely cannot overlook,” the party’s security panel said in the proposal given to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “We should not waste any time to strengthen our ballistic missile defense.”
The panel noted that North Korea’s recent missile launches have shown advancing technology, including the capability to launch from mobile facilities or submarines, the use of solid fuel, and high-altitude trajectories, which make them harder to trace and respond.
With higher levels of threat coming from North Korea, Japan should consider possessing “our own capability of striking back at an enemy base, with cruise missiles for instance, to further improve deterrence and response as part of the Japan-U.S. alliance,” the proposal said.
The panel said the government should consider introducing THAAD and a shore-based Aegis missile defense system, among other equipment, while pursuing upgrades to two existing missile defense systems — ship-to-air SM-3 interceptors and the ground-based PAC-3.
China, which was occupied by Japanese troops during World War II, quickly criticized the proposal. Beijing views any Japanese plan to boost its military capabilities with suspicion.