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Japan Considers Strike Against N. Korea

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20060710/D8IP4UC81.html Japan Considers Strike Against N. Korea Jul 10, 8:58 AM (ET) By MARI YAMAGUCHI TOKYO (AP) - Japan said
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 10, 2006

      Japan Considers Strike Against N. Korea

      Jul 10, 8:58 AM (ET)


      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
      the regime.

      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.
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