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Jul 10, 9:26 AM EDT
Japan considers strike against N. Korea
By MARI YAMAGUCHI
Associated Press Writer
TOKYO (AP) -- Japan said Monday it was considering whether a pre-
emptive strike on the North's missile bases would violate its
constitution, signaling a hardening stance ahead of a possible U.N.
Security Council vote on Tokyo's proposal for sanctions against the
Japan was badly rattled by North Korea's missile tests last week and
several government officials openly discussed whether the country ought
to take steps to better defend itself, including setting up the legal
framework to allow Tokyo to launch a pre-emptive strike against
Northern missile sites.
"If we accept that there is no other option to prevent an attack ...
there is the view that attacking the launch base of the guided missiles
is within the constitutional right of self-defense. We need to deepen
discussion," Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said.
Japan's constitution bars the use of military force in settling
international disputes and prohibits Japan from maintaining a military
for warfare. Tokyo has interpreted that to mean it can have armed
troops to protect itself, allowing the existence of its 240,000-strong
A Defense Agency spokeswoman, however, said Japan has no attacking
weapons such as ballistic missiles that could reach North Korea. Its
forces only have ground-to-air missiles and ground-to-vessel missiles,
she said on condition of anonymity because of official policy.
Despite resistance from China and Russia, Japan has pushed for a U.N.
Security Council resolution that would nations from transferring
missile-related items, materials goods and technology to North Korea. A
vote was possible later Monday, but Japan said it would not insist on
"It's important for the international community to express a strong
will in response to the North Korean missile launches," Abe said. "This
resolution is an effective way of expressing that."
China and Russia, both nations with veto power on the council, have
voiced opposition to the measure. Kyodo News agency reported Monday,
citing unidentified Chinese diplomatic sources, that China may use its
veto on the Security Council to block the resolution.
The United States, Britain and France have expressed support for the
proposal, while Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso has said there is a
possibility that Russia will abstain.
South Korea, not a council member, has not publicly taken a position on
the resolution, but on Sunday Seoul rebuked Japan for its outspoken
criticism of the tests.
"There is no reason to fuss over this from the break of dawn like Japan,
but every reason to do the opposite," a statement from President Roh
Moo-hyun's office said, suggesting that Tokyo was contributing to
tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Abe said Monday it was "regrettable" that South Korea had accused Japan
"There is no mistake that the missile launch ... is a threat to Japan
and the region. It is only natural for Japan to take measures of risk
management against such a threat," Abe said.
Meanwhile, a Chinese delegation including the country's top nuclear
envoy - Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei - arrived Monday in North Korea,
officially to attend celebrations marking the 45th anniversary of a
friendship treaty between the North and China.
The U.S. is urging Beijing to push its communist ally back into six-
party nuclear disarmament talks, but the Chinese government has not
said whether Wu would bring up the negotiations. A ministry spokeswoman
said last week that China was "making assiduous efforts" in pushing for
the talks to resume.
Talks have been deadlocked since November because of a boycott by
Pyongyang in protest of a crackdown by Washington on the regime's
alleged money-laundering and other financial crimes.
Beijing has suggested an informal gathering of the six nations, which
could allow the North to technically stand by its boycott, but at the
same time meet with the other five parties - South Korea, China, the U.
S., Japan and Russia. The U.S. has backed the idea and said Washington
could meet with the North on the sidelines of such a meeting.
Still, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill questioned
just how influential Beijing was with the enigmatic regime.
"I must say the issue of China's influence on DPRK is one that concerns
us," Hill told reporters in Tokyo. "China said to the DPRK, 'Don't fire
those missiles,' but the DPRK fired them. So I think everybody,
especially the Chinese, are a little bit worried about it."
The DPRK refers to the North's official name, the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea.
Hill is touring the region to coordinate strategy on North Korea. He
has emphasized the need for countries involved to present a united
"We want to make it very clear that we all speak in one voice on this
provocative action by the North Koreans to launch missiles in all
shapes and sizes," Hill said. "We want to make it clear to North Korea
that what it did was really unacceptable."
Associated Press writers Audra Ang in Beijing and Chisaki Watanabe in
Tokyo contributed to this report.
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