Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is not ruling out new options, including attack capabilities against enemy bases, following a government decision to cancel deployment of U.S. missile defense system Aegis Ashore.
Abe's call for a "new direction" for Japan's national security would allow the country to strike first if enemy forces are found to be preparing for an attack, Asahi Shimbun reported Wednesday.
Japan is gravitating toward stepping up defense measures following the approval of recommendations from a task force examining Tokyo's options. The recommendations, approved by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's policy research council, have been presented to Abe, according to the Asahi.
The recommendations call for "new measures that will heighten deterrence, including possession of the capability of preventing ballistic missile launches even from within enemy territory."
The prime minister had said in June new discussions are needed on the direction of defense. His administration could be considering options that could "alter the parameters of Japan's military alliance with the United States," according to the Asahi.
Tokyo has defended the pursuit of the changes. It has said the capability, described by former Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera as "stopping a missile in the territory of an opponent," is compatible with Japan's pacifist Constitution, Kyodo News reported.
"As missile technology improves, if it is unavoidable to protect our country, it is necessary to stop a missile in the territory or airspace of an opponent," Onodera had said.
Japan may have been considering an attack weapon that can strike enemy bases in January, as North Korea resumed missile tests in 2019, according to the Yomiuri.
In a defense white paper published in July, Japan said Pyongyang has the capability to launch an attack with a nuclear warhead. North Korea has also mastered the capability to miniaturize nuclear warheads, Tokyo has said.