Japan’s ruling party broadens vision for defensive strike option

Japan’s ruling party broadens vision for defensive strike option

  • LDP proposal would extend shield beyond interception and fixed launch sites

TOKYO — Japanese lawmakers showed support Thursday for developing new systems to head off missile threats in enemy territory, recognizing the limits of an approach that relies purely on intercepting incoming attacks.

The draft recommendation approved by a team in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party does not specifically mention striking enemy bases — a topic that has been debated since June, when plans to deploy the Aegis Ashore land-based missile shield were suspended — but implicitly encourages Japan to develop such capabilities.

The proposal stresses the need for “integrated air and missile defense” capabilities that can protect all of Japan at the same time. The current system, centered on Aegis-equipped ships, cannot provide such coverage.

The lawmakers urge continuing the “sword and shield” dynamic of the U.S.-Japan alliance while creating a stronger overall deterrent against threats. They also call for improving Japan’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

The LDP proposal will be submitted as early as August to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, which will accelerate National Security Council talks on related issues, including alternatives to Aegis Ashore and the question of whether to acquire enemy base strike capabilities. Officials will set a policy direction by September.