Japan May Ditch Pacifist Stance to Face North Korean Nuclear Threat

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 Patriot Missile Air Defense Battery in Okinawa

Japan is considering moving beyond the country’s long-standing anti-war position to enable it to target overseas locations for the first time since World War II.

The proposal by the ruling Liberal Democrat Party calls for new measures to address North Korea’s nuclear threats.

The initiative includes an increase in Japan’s military and defense capabilities, and a change to its postwar Constitution that will allow Japan to develop “ability to counter enemy bases” in an event where a missile is launched against the country.

Hiroshi Imazu, head of the the ruling party’s Investigation and Security Commission, and former Defense Minister, Itsunori Onodera, delivered a proposal on defense missiles to Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Onodera, who led the panel, told reporters after the meeting that Japan’s current systems are not capable of facing multiple attacks.

The country’s ballistic missile system has limitations if several missiles are fired, Onodera said. He added that neutralizing an enemy base to prevent the launch of a second and third missile are within the range of self-defense – not a pre-emptive strike. Current systems include US made Patriot missiles, as seen in the photo above based in Okinawa.

Japan’s anxiety comes after a series of nuclear tests from North Korea. Earlier this month, Pyongyang launched four medium-range nuclear missiles , three of which landed less than 370 kilometers off the coast of Japan.

This would not be the first time the current government has sought to change Japan’s military role.

In 2015, amid protests from citizens and neighboring countries, the government adjusted its postwar Pacifist Constitution to allow a more active role in foreign conflicts.

The legislation reinterpreted article 9 of the document, which states in part that the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means to resolve international disputes.

This allows the Japanese Army, known as the Self-Defense Forces, or SDF, to provide limited defense to its allies in foreign conflicts. The forces have traditionally been restricted to humanitarian roles since the second world war.

Photo: U.S. Navy