Japan vows to boost missile defense after North Korea parade

TOKYO (AP) - Japan on Monday vowed to strengthen its missile deterrence capability to respond to threats posed by North Korean weapons that are becoming "more diverse and complex," as demonstrated during the Pyongyang military parade over the weekend.
North Korea, which celebrated the 75th anniversary of its ruling party on Saturday, unveiled a variety of weapon systems and unveiled what appears to be an intercontinental ballistic missile larger than any known ICBM in the north. It also displayed what was likely an updated version of a missile that can be fired from submarines.
While some experts say the weapons may have been models of missiles in development, the exhibits seem to mark North Korea's continued improvement in its weapons capabilities during stalled nuclear diplomacy with the US.
"In order to respond to threats that are diverse and complex, we will work hard to strengthen our comprehensive missile deterrence capability," said cabinet chief Katsunobu Kato on Monday at a regular press conference. "We understand that some of these missiles are supposed to make it difficult for us to respond with our conventional equipment."
Kato declined to provide details on Japan's analysis of the missiles reported by North Korea. He just said that Japan would continue to work with the US and other affected countries to protect the Japanese people.
Under the nearly eight-year tenure of former Hawk Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan expanded the international role of its military in the alliance between Japan and the United States amid growing threats from North Korea and China.
Tokyo has repeatedly identified the two countries as threats to its regional security and is currently considering a major change to its missile deterrence policy that would include the possibility of developing first-strike capability on enemy bases to defend against impending attacks.
Abe's successor, Yoshihide Suga, and his government are expected to come up with a new missile plan later this year.
Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

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