Japan to mull ability to hit enemy bases in defence review
TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan should strengthen the ability of its military to deter and counter missile attacks, including the possible acquisition of the ability to hit enemy bases, the Defence Ministry said, but officials denied this would be used for pre-emptive strikes.
The proposal - Japan's latest step away from the constraints of its pacifist constitution - is part of a review of defence policy by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government, which released an interim report on the issue on Friday. Final review conclusions are due by the end of the year.
The hawkish Mr Abe took office in December for a rare second term, pledging to bolster the military to cope with what Japan sees as an increasingly threatening security environment, including an assertive China and an unpredictable North Korea.
The report by a defence ministry panel echoed concerns aired in Japan's latest defence white paper about North Korea's missile and nuclear programmes, and China's military build-up and increased activity by its ships and aircraft near disputed islands in the East China Sea - where Japanese and Chinese vessels and planes have been playing cat-and-mouse.