Japan mulls 'more aggressive' military stance

Indo Asian News Service

Tokyo, March 31 (IANS) Japan is considering a "more aggressive" military stance for the first time since World War II, to strike overseas targets, a media report said on Friday.

The proposal from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) advocates adopting new measures to address missile threats from North Korea, including ramping up Japan's missile defence capabilities and developing the "capacity to counter-attack enemy bases" in the event of a missile attack on the country, the CNN report said.

Hiroshi Imazu, chair of the Research Commission on Security for the LDP, and former Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, submitted the proposal to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday.

Onodera, who led the panel, told the media after the meeting that Japan's current systems might not be able to cope with a barrage of attacks.

"There are limitations (of our) ballistic missile defence (BMD) if several missiles are fired," he said.

"Neutralising an enemy base (and preventing the launch of) the second and third missiles is within the range of self-defence. It is not a pre-emptive strike," he added.

Tensions in Japan follows a string of North Korean missile tests, the CNN report said.

Earlier this month, Pyongyang fired four intermediate-range ballistic missiles, three of which landed less than 200 nautical miles off the Japanese coast.

Abe said that his government would seriously consider the proposal.

"We assess that the threat (from North Korea) has advanced to a new stage, we take it seriously. This assessment is shared by the US," CNN quoted the Prime Minister as saying.

Japan has not launched an attack on foreign soil since World War II.

Currently, any Japanese counter-attack on North Korea would need to come from US forces because Tokyo does not have all the equipment needed to carry out long-range strikes, according to analysts.