World News

Japan panel wants "first strikes" against enemies: report

A soldier stands next to a Japanese Self-Defence Force Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile unit in Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan March 31, 2009.REUTERS/Kyodo

TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese ruling party panel is to propose that pre-emptive strikes against enemy bases be allowed despite the country’s pacifist constitution, Kyodo news agency said on Monday, weeks after a North Korean missile launch.

North Korea fired a ballistic missile in April that flew over northern Japan after warning that it planned to launch a satellite, prompting the government to deploy missile interceptors to the area .

“Japan should have the ability to strike enemy bases within the scope of its defense-oriented policy, in order not to sit and wait for death,” Kyodo quoted the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) committee as saying in its proposal.

The committee also plans to call for Japan to develop early-warning satellites to detect the launch of missiles toward the country, Kyodo said. Japan currently depends on information from a U.S. early-warning satellite, the agency said.

While some lawmakers have called for strike capability, Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada is among those are cautious about the prospect, though the government’s stance is that such strikes should be allowed if an attack were certain to take place.

The panel’s plans are set to be submitted for consideration ahead of the compilation of a five-year government Defense program by the end of the year, Kyodo said.

Reporting by Isabel Reynolds; Editing by David Fox