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Pre-emptive first strike on enemy missile base constitutional: Japan defense minister

TOKYO -- It would not be a violation of Japan's pacifist Constitution to mount a defensive first strike against an enemy launch pad or base preparing a missile attack against Japanese territory, Defense Minister Taro Kono said at a July 8 meeting of the House of Representatives Security Committee.

Kono made the statement in reply to opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) lawmaker Go Shinohara, who had asserted, "The only time when a (Japanese) strike on an enemy base would be permissible is (after a launch) when an enemy missile is in the booster phase. Attacking the launch pad or base would violate the Constitution, wouldn't it?"

Kono replied that if there was no other method available to defend against a missile attack, then the government believes that a preemptive strike against the enemy missile base would fall within the strictly defense-only scope of action allowed under the Constitution.

"We would make concrete, case-by-case decisions on the use of armed force based on the international situation, intentions conveyed by the opposing party, and the means of attack," Kono said. Furthermore, "it would not be unconstitutional to strike an enemy launch pad or base before a missile launch, instead of waiting for the missile's booster phase," he said.

(Japanese original by Yusuke Tanabe, Political News Department)

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