July 9 (UPI) -- Japan's defense minister said North Korea is making strides in weapons development and Tokyo needs to retain the capability to attack enemy bases.
Defense Minister Taro Kono said Thursday at a meeting of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and defense that North Korea is diversifying and strengthening its latest missiles, Kyodo News reported.
According to Kono, North Korea is attempting to break through a missile defense network that includes Japan with the development of missiles that can fly at low altitudes and at unpredictable trajectories.
The top Japanese defense official said Pyongyang is "launching ballistic missiles at an unprecedented frequency" and working on its surprise attack capabilities.
North Korea is also improving upon its ability to launch saturation missile attacks, a tactical method that increases the penetration possibilities of missiles.
"The threat to Japan has increased," Kono said.
Kono also said "all cards should be on the table" when discussing Japan's options in the face of security threats.
Kono's remarks before Japanese parliament come after the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirmed it is canceling the deployment of two land-based U.S. missile defense systems.
The decision to deploy the Aegis Ashore systems was part of Japan's plans to deter North Korean threats.
On Wednesday Kono had defended a potential ability to mount a pre-emptive first strike against enemy bases in the face of a pending missile attack, the Mainichi Shimbun reported.
"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.
"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."
Japan has also condemned Chinese incursions into Japanese contiguous zones in the East China Sea.