Japan PM to bolster defense after scrapping missile system

TOKYO (AP) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday that his country needs to improve its security situation in the face of threats from North Korea and consider buying preemptive strikes after the planned deployment of two new land-based missile defense systems must be abolished.
Abe said he wanted to redefine the importance of deterrence given the North Korean threat and its advancement in missile technology.
"We should renew our discussion about the appropriate deterrence that we need, given the advanced missile technology in North Korea since the introduction of our anti-missile defense systems," he said.
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Abe said that this should include the ability to carry out preventive strikes within the confines of the country's pacifist constitution.
"The question is whether we should stay within the frontier when enemy capabilities advance dramatically," said Abe.
Abe has long urged to amend Article 9 of the U.S. Constitution of Japan, drafted by the United States after World War II, which renounced war and violence as a means of settling international disputes and interpreted as meaning that the country's armed forces act only in themselves - Defense. Abe reinterpreted Article 9 in 2015 so that self-defense also includes the right to fight for his ally, the United States, in the event of an enemy attack.
Abe's comments come just a few days after the Japanese Ministry of Defense announced that it would stop using two land-based Aegis Ashore missile defense systems after it was determined that the security of one of the planned host communities could not be guaranteed without hardware redesign, which was too time-consuming and costly would.
Defense officials had said the two Aegis Ashore units could fully cover Japan. The country's current missile defense system consists of Aegis-equipped destroyers at sea and Patriot missiles on land.
After being on the backbone of the ruling party for decades, Abe's government was suggested in 2017 by his party's missile defense body to gain preventive strike capabilities and deploy cruise missiles.
Abe had largely avoided the highly controversial issue after his support ratings dropped in a series of political scandals.
Abe said on Thursday that it was time to discuss it again as tensions escalated on the Korean peninsula.
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Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

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