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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 April 5 - 11  > Possessing capability to attack enemy base would escalate military tension and goes against constitutional spirit
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2017 April 5 - 11 [POLITICS]
editorial 

Possessing capability to attack enemy base would escalate military tension and goes against constitutional spirit

April 11, 2017
Akahata editorial

Calls for Japan’s possession of “capability to attack enemy bases” have been increasing in the Liberal Democratic Party under the pretext of the threat from North Korea’s repeated missile launches. It is unacceptably reckless for North Korea to have fired missiles which are military actions inseparable from its nuclear weapons development, posing a serious threat to global peace and security. The international community should unite to strictly implement and tighten economic sanctions against North Korea. At the same time, it has become increasingly important to put pressure on the country to denuclearize through diplomatic talks. On the other hand, possessing a first strike offensive capability would make it possible for Japan to mount a lawless preemptive strike and accelerate the dangerous vicious cycle in which military actions invite military responses, leading to an escalation of the use of military options.

LDP seeks early consideration of Japan’s assault capability

The LDP Policy Research Council in late March compiled a proposal that Japan immediately consider acquiring its “own capability of striking back at an enemy base” such as a missile base in order to respond to a “new level of the North Korean threat” and handed this proposal to Prime Minister Abe Shinzo.

The proposal gives examples of the capability Japan should possess, such as the ability to determine the exact location of an enemy base, neutralize radar facilities protecting the positioning information of an enemy base, and launch precision-guided missiles at an enemy base. Spy satellites or unmanned surveillance drones to identify a missile base, electronic warfare aircraft to disturb an enemy’s ground radar, stealth fighter jets to attack a military target, and ballistic missiles or cruise missiles launched from the ground, a submarine, or an Aegis destroyer are specifically noted.

Possessing these abilities does not mean “striking back” at an enemy base. They, however, taken together mean attacking other countries. This is nothing other than having the “capability of striking first” after which Japan could conduct a major assault.

In 1956, Prime Minister Hatoyama Ichiro argued that only when “there is no other choice” to prevent an attack against Japan, striking an enemy missile base is considered to be “within the range of self-defense in terms of legal theory and therefore is allowable”. On the other hand, in 1959, Defense Agency Director General Ino Shigejiro said that Hatoyama’s view was essentially an interpretation about “a matter of law”. Ino also said that it would not be in accord with the spirit of the Constitution for Japan to maintain weapons in peacetime that could be used to attack or aggressively threaten other countries.

The Abe Cabinet is now introducing state-of-the-art F35 stealth fighter jets, aerial refueling aircraft, and other advanced components that could play an important role in a weapons system capable of a preemptive attack on an enemy base. The Abe government ostensibly said that it neither has a plan to obtain a weapons system to attack a base in hostile countries nor a scenario of striking an enemy base as an exercise of the self-defense right. However, the government insisted that it is a matter of course for the state to consider possessing such an option in a House of Councilors plenary meeting on March 31. It is obvious that to possess the capability of preemptively attacking an enemy base goes against the Constitution. There is no room for argument on this point.

To have the capability to engage in enemy base strikes will open the path for a military buildup of an extraordinarily large scale. The amount of the defense budget in FY2017 reached a record high of 5.1 trillion yen. It is reported that if the government decides to have a weapons system capable of striking a military facility in enemy countries, it would need to increase defense spending by several trillion yen.

Japan should strengthen measures to realize peaceful solution to North Korea issue

The UN Security Council’s press statement which condemns North Korea’s missile launch on April 5 stresses “the importance of working to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula and beyond”. Strengthening military responses by such means as introducing the capability to strike an enemy base will in no way contribute to a peaceful settlement.

As the UNSC statement states, it is necessary to drastically step up efforts to “facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue”.
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