Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stands in a vehicle Saturday during the Japan Self Defense Forces review at Camp Asaka near Tokyo. Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/EPA-EFE
Nov. 27 (UPI) — Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Saturday Japan will consider enemy base strike capabilities to boost defense despite critics saying it violates the country’s pacifist constitution.
Kishida told 800 military personnel during a troop review at Camp Asaka near Tokyo that the option for Self-Defense Forces to strike at hostile enemy bases would be considered when Japan revises its foreign and security policies, Kyodo News and national broadcaster NHK reported.
The military review was scaled down for the second year due to the COVID-19 pandemic with no parade of tanks or other vehicles.
He said the enemy base strike capability was one option the government was considering to increase necessary defense capability.
Critics have said the enemy base strike capability violates Article 9 of the Japanese constitution that was imposed on Tokyo after the end of WWII, which renounces war to settle international disputes and prohibits maintaining an armed force except for defensive purposes.
Still, Kishida said enemy base strike capability would be considered to protect against North Korea’s rapid development of missile technology and its continued firing of ballistic missiles in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, as well as against China’s military expansion.
Japan “cannot overlook (North Korea’s) recent development and improvement of new technologies such as hypersonic glide weapons and missiles with irregular orbits,” the prime minister said.
China continues to strengthen its military “without sufficient transparency” and is making “unilateral attempts to change the status quo,” he added.
Kishida said he has instructed the government to revise its national security strategy and defense program guidelines.
On Friday, the Japanese government approved record military spending of $53.2 billion for the year, up 15% from the previous year. The new spending plan included missiles, anti-submarine rockets and other weapons.
Last month, the Marine Corps launched two F-35B fighter jets from the Japanese warship Izumo, marking the first time since WWII any aircraft has taken off from a Japanese vessel.
At the troop review, Kishida also spoke about the situation in Ethiopia where fighting has intensified between the government and rebel Tigray forces.
He said that the government has dispatched a team to Djibouti to find if Japanese nationals living in Ethiopia need to be evacuated by air.