TOKYO – Japan will not rule out the purchase of weapons giving it first-strike capability on enemy missile bases deemed imminent threats to its national security, Defence Minister Taro Kono said on Thursday (June 25)..
This came as he formalised the cancellation of a controversial plan to deploy the United States’ land-based Aegis Ashore anti-ballistic missile system.
The system was meant to complete a defence triangle with a fleet of sea-based Aegis-equipped destroyers and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air missile batteries.
A defence review is due later this year to look into filling the security gap with the cancellation of the Aegis Ashore system.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has mooted a first-strike capability as an option, while top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said this remained within the realm of self-defence and was in keeping with the pacifist Constitution.
But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday: “We urge Japan to earnestly learn the lessons of history (and) continue to follow the path of peaceful development with concrete actions.”
Still, Mr Kono on Thursday reserved strong comments on unilateral Chinese assertiveness in the region, which he described as “alarming”.
Earlier this week, in a rare move, he identified a submarine that passed near Japanese territorial waters as “presumed to belong to China”. The incident occurred last week.
Chinese ships have also sailed in waters around the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands for 72 straight