Japan Considers Strike Against N. Korea
Jul 10, 8:58 AM (ET)
By MARI YAMAGUCHI
TOKYO (AP) - Japan said Monday it was considering
whether a pre-emptive strike on the North's missile
bases would violate its constitution, signaling a
hardening stance ahead of a possible U.N. Security
Council vote on Tokyo's proposal for sanctions against
Japan was badly rattled by North Korea's missile tests
last week and several government officials openly
discussed whether the country ought to take steps to
better defend itself, including setting up the legal
framework to allow Tokyo to launch a pre-emptive
strike against Northern missile sites.
"If we accept that there is no other option to prevent
an attack ... there is the view that attacking the
launch base of the guided missiles is within the
constitutional right of self-defense. We need to
deepen discussion," Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe
Japan's constitution currently bars the use of
military force in settling international disputes and
prohibits Japan from maintaining a military for
warfare. Tokyo has interpreted that to mean it can
have armed troops to protect itself, allowing the
existence of its 240,000-strong Self-Defense Forces.
A Defense Agency spokeswoman, however, said Japan has
no attacking weapons such as ballistic missiles that
could reach North Korea. Its forces only have
ground-to-air missiles and ground-to-vessel missiles,
she said on condition of anonymity due to official
Despite resistance from China and Russia, Japan has
pushed for a U.N. Security Council resolution that
would prohibit nations from procuring missiles or
missile-related "items, materials goods and
technology" from North Korea. A vote was possible in
New York later Monday, but Japan said it would not
insist on one.
"It's important for the international community to
express a strong will in response to the North Korean
missile launches," Abe said. "This resolution is an
effective way of expressing that."
China and Russia, both nations with veto power on the
council, have voiced opposition to the measure. Kyodo
News agency reported Monday, citing unnamed Chinese
diplomatic sources, that China may use its veto on the
Security Council to block the resolution.
The United States, Britain and France have expressed
support for the proposal, while Japanese Foreign
Minister Taro Aso has said there is a possibility that
Russia will abstain.
South Korea, not a council member, has not publicly
taken a position on the resolution, but on Sunday
Seoul rebuked Japan for its outspoken criticism of the
"There is no reason to fuss over this from the break
of dawn like Japan, but every reason to do the
opposite," a statement from President Roh Moo-hyun's
office said, suggesting that Tokyo was contributing to
tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Abe said Monday it was "regrettable" that South Korea
had accused Japan of overreacting.
"There is no mistake that the missile launch ... is a
threat to Japan and the region. It is only natural for
Japan to take measures of risk management against such
a threat," Abe said.
Meanwhile, a Chinese delegation including the
country's top nuclear envoy - Vice Foreign Minister Wu
Dawei - arrived in North Korea on Monday, officially
to attend celebrations marking the 45th anniversary of
a friendship treaty between the North and China.
The U.S. is urging Beijing to push its communist ally
back into six-party nuclear disarmament talks, but the
Chinese government has not said whether Wu would bring
up the negotiations. A ministry spokeswoman said last
week that China was "making assiduous efforts" in
pushing for the talks to resume.
Talks have been deadlocked since November because of a
boycott by Pyongyang in protest of a crackdown by
Washington on the regime's alleged money-laundering
and other financial crimes.
Beijing has suggested an informal gathering of the six
nations, which could allow the North to technically
stand by its boycott, but at the same time meet with
the other five parties - South Korea, China, the U.S.,
Japan and Russia. The U.S. has backed the idea and
said Washington could meet with the North on the
sidelines of such a meeting.
Still, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher
Hill questioned just how influential Beijing was with
the enigmatic regime.
"I must say the issue of China's influence on DPRK is
one that concerns us," Hill told reporters in Tokyo.
"China said to the DPRK, 'Don't fire those missiles,'
but the DPRK fired them. So I think everybody,
especially the Chinese, are a little bit worried about
The DPRK refers to the North's official name, the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Hill is touring the region to coordinate strategy on
North Korea. He has emphasized the need for countries
involved to present a united front.
"We want to make it very clear that we all speak in
one voice on this provocative action by the North
Koreans to launch missiles in all shapes and sizes,"
Hill said. "We want to make it clear to North Korea
that what it did was really unacceptable."
Associated Press writers Audra Ang in Beijing and
Chisaki Watanabe in Tokyo contributed to this report.