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Pacifist Japan cannot 'sit still' if attacked: defense chief

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Jul 21, 2006
Japan should not "sit still and die" if attacked, the defense chief said Friday, in the latest call for the pacifist nation to boost its military after North Korea's missile tests.

Defense Agency chief Fukushiro Nukaga, who recently suggested that Japan should consider "a limited assault capability", said Japan needed full discussions on ways to deal with threats.

"If Japan were attacked by a missile, it is not in the spirit of the constitution to sit still and die," Nukaga said in a speech.

The comment came after top policymakers including Nukaga controversially called for Japan to look at the possibility of a pre-emptive strike on North Korea in case of an immediate threat.

"I'm saying that protecting a nation's citizens by attacking enemy territory is legally allowed in theory," Nukaga said in reference to his earlier remarks. "It is theoretically allowed under the constitution."

"But in reality, Japan's Self-Defense Forces don't have any means to attack other countries, because the SDF's role specializes in defense," he added.

Japan was banned from even threatening to use force under the 1947 constitution imposed by the United States. Its state-of-the-art military is known as the Self-Defense Forces and lacks weapons for offensive actions.

Japanese leaders' talk of a hypothetical pre-emptive attack enraged South Korea and China, which accuse Japan of failing to atone for its aggression in the early 20th century.

Japan has taken the hardest line against North Korea since it test-fired seven missiles in its direction on July 5, including one long-range Taepodong-2, which is said in theory to be capable of hitting US soil.

"As there is a country which threatens to attack us with biochemical weapons and just launched missiles, I have proposed to the ruling parties to discuss the issue of how to protect our citizens," Nukaga said.

Japan has also vowed to push ahead quickly with the United States in jointly developing missile defenses prompted by the North's shock firing of a missile over the Japanese mainland in 1998.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has steadily expanded Japan's defense role, sending troops to Iraq and proposing a revised constitution that would give Japan a military in name for the first time in six decades.

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