Japanese lawmakers are calling for the country's military to be capable of conducting pre-emptive strikes on foreign missile launch sites to safeguard itself from potential attacks better than North Korea and China are capable of doing.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the defense policy committee of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) released a proposal on Friday that aims to be a new test of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's pacifist constitution of the country.
Prime Minister Abe had previously aimed to loosen military restrictions as Japan's response to the increasing aggression and challenges from Beijing and Pyongyang for the past few years.
The proposal wrote that Japan needs to conduct new efforts to improve its deterrence of foreign attackers, including the possession of the capability to fight off ballistic missiles and other long-range weaponry even in the middle of enemy territory.
In August, Japan's National Security Council is scheduled to consider the proposal as it reviews the country's defense policies.
The support comes after the Japanese government decided in June to discard its plan to purchase a missile-defense system made by the United States. The system would have provided Japan with the necessary nationwide layer of protection that is capable of warding off ballistic missiles.
Tokyo considered the decision due to the severely high costs and modification delays that were needed to ensure that the rocket debris of the Aegis Ashore system that Lockheed Martin Corp. developed would not land in residential areas across Japan.
The LDP proposal stated that Japan should find methods of similar improvements to its foreign missile deterrent systems that the Aegis Ashore system could have potentially provided while keeping in mind the capability of warding off other external attacks.
In Japan, any form of policy debate about national security and defense becomes a debate on constitution and legality, as reported by The Diplomat. For decades, politicians have discussed and debated over the country's strike capability.
A shift in the balance
However, in the past few years, the strategic and military balance in East Asia has become a significant factor that has changed the tide of the discussions. Japan is surrounded by several superpowers including China, Russia, and North Korea, who all hold nuclear capabilities and high-advanced missile systems and weaponry.
Japan has had histories of arguments and territorial and sovereignty disputes. Recent incidents have disturbed the balance of power in East Asia. Japan's major defense policy papers' threat assessment considers North Korea to be a potential and imminent threat that is equipped with miniaturized nuclear weapons.
China, on the other hand, owns intermediate-range missiles. Some Japanese officials claim that there is an apparent gap between the alliance of their country and the United States, and China.
Several strategic thinkers are calling for Japan to broaden both its offense and defense capabilities. Some leading security experts are expressing their support of acquiring a strike capability and are urging serious discussions of the country's excessive dependence on the United States after the coronavirus pandemic is over.