2003 April 01 Tuesday
Japan Debates Increased Offensive Military Capability

Japanese Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, in questioning before a Japanese Parliament committee, said Japan should consider the development of an offensive military capability.

"It is worth considering it," he said.

"It is necessary to examine (the issue) from various points of view. If we stop considering it, we will be unable to take responsibility for the peace and independence of our country," Mr Ishiba said.

The threat of a nuclear North Korea is driving Japan toward development of a much stronger military. Statements by Ishiba and other figures in Japanese politics must be getting noticed in Beijing.

Another prominent Japanese cabinet member, Shinzo Abe, provided some support for Ishiba's comments.

The comments, hinting at Japan acquiring an offensive military capability, echo comments he made last month that Tokyo might consider a pre-emptive strike on North Korea. Mr. Ishiba quickly backed away from those comments, but Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said a more assertive military posture is worth looking at.

While on a visit to Seoul South Korea Ishiba appeared to argue that the nature of the threat can make offensive capability necessary for defensive purposes.

“The Japanese government said in parliament in 1958 that when there is no other means, it is not the intention of the constitution to just sit and wait to die,” said Mr Shigeru Ishiba, director general of Japan’s defence agency, interviewed live from Seoul on a Fuji Television talk show. “While we don’t have ballistic missiles, that response from the government was given,” he said, adding: “So it is definitely not against the intent of the constitution.”

There are even right-wing Japanese politicians calling for the development of a Japanese nuclear weapons capability.

In addition, a few right-wing politicians here are suggesting that Japan build nuclear weapons to counter North Korea’s aggressive moves. That idea has almost no public support in the only country ever to have been struck with nuclear weapons. But the topic is no longer taboo.

Update: The Japanese government suspects North Korea has test-fired another missile.

According to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, the Japanese government received information from intelligence sources that shortly after 10 a.m. North Korea fired a short-range missile into the Yellow Sea from its northwestern coast.

The Japanese do not think the type of missile tested has the range to reach Japan. Still, this sort of move in North Korea's part is just going to increase the determination of the Japanese to further develop their military capabilities.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 April 01 03:09 PM  Politics Grand Strategy

Yogeshwar Romkhami said at December 2, 2003 10:53 PM:

Being a Nepalese I respect and love Japan for it's relentless support to Nepal in various fields of development. Today world knows that Japan is sticking with peace for what it has pledged after second world war, but every nation has a right to defend itself from any kind of attacks, since North Korea one of the heavily militarized nation with nuclear capability and which is very close to Japan could move anytime aggression is a serious threat to Japan. therefore it's my personal view that Japan must develop it's military capability with nuclear aspects to present it's more effective role.

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