The Japanese government on Wednesday said the country should boost its defense capabilities and be willing to be more militarily active abroad.
The draft of a new national security strategy released by the Shinzo Abe administration urged fostering a tighter military relationship with the United States and improving Japan's missile-defense capabilities, the New York Times reported. The panel of Abe-selected experts who wrote the new strategy said a more-capable military was needed in order to respond to the rising danger posed by North Korea's nuclear work, as well as China's recent "intrusions" into maritime territory over which Tokyo also claims sovereignty.
Abe's cabinet is anticipated to approve the draft national security strategy -- as well as a new defense policy -- next week, according to Japanese media reports.
The new defense guidelines notably did not include a recommendation that Japan acquire the military means to carry out attacks on hostile targets, Reuters reported.
Under Japan's current interpretation of its post-World War II constitution, it is only allowed to use military force defensively. The hawkish Abe administration, though, wants to expand the number of scenarios under which the Japanese military can use force, such as in case of a North Korean missile attack on U.S. bases in Guam where Japanese missile interceptors might be used to neutralize the threat.
"North Korea has repeated conduct that heightens regional tensions," the draft guidelines said. "Its nuclear and missile development ... represent a grave and imminent threat to our country's security."
The not-yet-finalized security strategy also recommends that Tokyo relax its ban on weapons exports.
Recalling Japanese actions during World War II, both South Korea and China are leery of moves by Tokyo to adopt a more assertive regional military presence.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.