North Korea says Japan has crossed military 'danger line'

SEOUL (AFP) - A day after Japan unveiled its largest warship since World War II, North Korea warned on Wednesday that Tokyo was following a militarisation programme that had already crossed "the danger line".

A commentary by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) highlighted a Japanese Defence Ministry paper published last month that stressed the need to boost the strength and range of forces required to protect Japan's far-flung territories.

The paper specifically called for a "comprehensive containment capability" to counter ballistic missile threats from North Korea.

"This is nothing but a broad hoax by Japan to justify its moves to turn it into a military giant which have gone beyond the danger line," KCNA said.

The commentary argued that "loudmouth" warnings about the missile and nuclear threat from North Korea were aimed at diverting international attention from efforts by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's conservative government to ditch Japan's pacifist constitution.

"Japan's assertions are too unreasonable and illogical to justify its sinister aim," the agency said.

"Japan would be well advised to behave with reason, aware that to do so would be beneficial to its security," it warned.

The KCNA commentary was released a day after Japan unveiled a US$1.2 billion (S$1.5 billion) helicopter carrier aimed at defending its territorial claims following maritime skirmishes with China.

Japan's well-funded and well-equipped military is referred to as the Self-Defense Forces, and is barred from taking aggressive action. Any move to beef up the military would require constitutional change.

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