TOKYO, July 9 (UPI) -- Japan must debate if it has the right to attack North Korea to protect itself from a nuclear missile launch, a senior Japanese defense official said Sunday.
Defense Agency Director General Fukushiro Nukaga said it was "natural" for a sovereign nation to protect its citizens when an enemy "puts a finger on the trigger of a gun," the Kyodo News Agency reported.
In the wake of North Korea's test firing of a long-range missile Wednesday, Nukaga said Japan must come to terms with its legal responsibilities, within the scope of its war-renouncing constitution, to launch a preemptive attack. Japan adopted a pacifist constitution in 1947.
His comments come as Japan's foreign minister, Taro Aso, said Japan would have the right to attack North Korea if North Korea made a direct nuclear threat against Japan.
"It is impossible for us to do nothing until we are attacked," Asp told Japan's NHK television.
Aso said the right to attack before being attacked was within the scope of the constitution, "at least under the current situation, to guarantee Japanese citizens' security."