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Japan May Adopt Missile Defense, But Leaves Action Vs. North Korea To Americans

By | July 31, 2006

      Japan should enhance its outlays on a missile defense shield as North Korea belligerently launches missiles, but Japan would leave any military strike on North Korea to U.S. armed forces, a member of the Japanese parliament said.

      Taku Yamasaki, a Liberal Democratic Party member of the Japanese House of Representatives, and chairman of the Research Commission on Security, made his remarks in a symposium of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank.

      Japan should enhance its “budget for the missile defense,” Yamasaki said through an interpreter.

      His comments come as the United States is spending billions of dollars in developing a multi-layered missile shield for itself and its allies, including Japan. Key firms in these programs include Lockheed Martin [LMT] as the maker of the Aegis weapons guidance system and radar, Boeing [BA] as the prime contractor of the Airborne Laser and in other roles, and Raytheon Co. [RTN] as the maker of missiles that actually strike and destroy incoming enemy ballistic weapons.

      At the same time, Yamasaki discounted reports that the long-pacifist Japan is becoming militaristic and might attack North Korea, a nation that in the 1990s launched a missile that arced over Japan.

      Additionally, North Korea on July 4 launched a long-range Taepo Dong 2 missile that failed in its first stage. But military experts estimated that it might have headed toward U.S. territory, had the Taepo Dong functioned properly.

      Asked whether Japan might attack North Korea, or at least might attempt to destroy a North Korean missile on the launching pad before it can be ignited, Yamasaki said, “That is not the case.”

      True, Yamasaki conceded, there is a new “nationalistic flavor” in comments by some Japanese leaders.

      But, he noted, Japan operates under rules forbidding offensive military actions. “The Japanese constitution prohibits Japan from conducting the preemptive strike,” he noted.

      Japan operates under three principles that limit its use of military action, Yamasaki said in response to a question from the audience:

      • There must be imminent danger of aggression by a foreign power towards Japan.

      • Any Japanese military action in response must be “minimally required to repel” the assault.

      • There must be no other measures available.

      But as far as that last point, there is another measure available to protect Japan: U.S. armed forces, he said.

      “I can’t even foresee a situation where Japan considers,” let along commences, a preemptive strike against North Korea, Yamasaki said.

      However, “there is a possibility that the United States” might do so if Japan is imperiled by North Korean actions. Any preemptive strike against a North Korean missile poised for launching would be “a role played by U.S. forces,” he said.

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