Photographer: Kim Won-jin/AFP via Getty Images

Japan Needs Ability to Strike North Korea, Ex-Defense Chief Says

  • New long-range missiles in Japan could be used to retaliate
  • Japan must deter North Korea from using nuclear weapons

Japan needs the "overwhelming" capacity to retaliate against a possible North Korean attack as a way to deter the isolated nation from using nuclear weapons, former Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said in an interview this week.

"North Korea won’t abandon its missile development and nuclear tests," Nakatani said. "Japan needs to introduce every possible resource to make sure they don’t use nuclear weapons."

Gen Nakatani

Photographer: Nicky Loh/Bloomberg

As concern grows over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests, current defense chief Itsunori Onodera said this month he would seek funds for the purchase of long-range cruise missiles -- something the country had previously forgone under its 70-year-old pacifist constitution. Japan has also decided to introduce a third layer of missile defense.

Almost 70 percent of respondents to a poll this month approved of the introduction of long-range missiles. Some 34 percent said their use against "enemy bases" should be allowed, with the same proportion saying they should only be used to defend Japan’s remote islands, according to the survey published by the Sankei newspaper and Fuji News Network.

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