In what could be a controversial move under Japan's pacifist Constitution, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's defense policymakers said Thursday they have drawn up a draft proposal urging that Japan consider developing the capability of striking missile bases in other countries.
A team of policymakers, headed by former Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, came up with the proposal as part of ways to strengthen the country's deterrence against North Korean missile threats following the government's cancellation last month of a plan to deploy a costly land-based U.S. missile defense system known as Aegis Ashore.
The draft says, "New efforts are needed to improve deterrence, including possession of the ability to intercept ballistic missiles and others even in the territory of an opponent," while maintaining the exclusively defense-oriented policy, according to a member of the team.
The draft is expected to be submitted to the office of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the LDP leader, early next month after several rounds of party discussions.
"Although the draft says the country will need (something that is) somewhat similar to Aegis Ashore for protection, we didn't put any concrete alternatives in the proposal," Onodera told reporters after Thursday's meeting of the LDP team studying missile defense. "The proposal will only provide a direction."
In previous meetings, the team discussed alternatives, including introducing a new interception system of detecting an incoming missile with high-grade radar on the ground and shooting it down with missiles launched from a sea-based platform, or simply building more Aegis destroyers equipped with missile interceptors.
Defense Minister Taro Kono said last month that Japan would halt the process of deploying the Aegis Ashore system, citing the discovery of a safety-related problem that would require even more costs and time to deal with.
Kono has said the government would find an alternative means of protecting the country from the missile threat by the end of September.
The government has said the Aegis Ashore system could not ensure that a rocket booster from an interceptor missile would land safely inside the candidate deployment sites or sea -- something it had promised local residents -- as the reason for giving up the project.© KYODO