Japan should alter its military policy to allow the East Asian country to come not only to the defense of the United States but to other friendly nations as well, an important adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a Wednesday Reuters report.
Tokyo presently interprets its post-World War II constitution to only allow the use of military force in self-defense. However, the Abe government wants to move to a broader understanding of what constitutes "collective self-defense" that would permit, for example, Japanese missile-defense systems to be used to intercept a possible North Korean missile attack on the U.S. territory of Guam.
The right to carry out collective self defense should apply "to any country which is very close to Japan," Abe adviser Shinichi Kitaoka said in an interview.
"In other words, if that country is heavily damaged and that might bring a serious threat to Japan, then this is a situation in which Japan may consider exercising the right of collective self-defense," he said.
Kitaoka is part of a task force working on a review of Japan's defense posture. He said the report, which is anticipated to be completed in December, could advise Tokyo to acquire the ability to carry out strikes on North Korea's strategic assets to prevent an imminent missile attack.
"'Imminent attack' means there have been a lot of declarations from the adversary country on the attack, and if we find that the missile is directed at us and fueling has started, this is imminent and in this case, it is the same as an actual attack," Kitaoka said.
Providing military support to Southeast Asian nations -- a number of which have competing territory claims with China -- could become a possibility under the potential defense changes being considered, he said.
Japan's willingness to consider abandoning its pacifist doctrine has unsettled some of its neighbors, including South Korea, which still remembers its experience as a Japanese colony in the early 20th century. In order to address Seoul's concerns, Tokyo should seek its "tacit assent at least for a policy change," Congressional Research Service analyst Ian Rinehart said in a Yonhap News Agency report last week.