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Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009

Defense-only posture needs reviewing: panel


Staff writer

Japan should consider dropping its ban on engaging in collective self-defense and overhaul its defense-only posture, a panel reviewing government strategy said Tuesday.

"We do not advocate pre-emptive strikes, but policies exclusively restricted to defense are insufficient. There needs to be debate about when Japan can use force, and not only after (it has been attacked)," a government official working with the panel said.

Taking into consideration the panel's recommendations, contained in a 52-page report, the government plans to revise the National Defense Program Guidelines by the end of the year, but the outcome of the Aug. 30 election could dilute the recommendations. The new guidelines are to be in effect through 2014.

While the Constitution does not allow collective self-defense, the panel's report suggests Japan should be allowed to assist should U.S. forces come under attack at sea or America is targeted by ballistic missiles.

The panel, headed by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, proposed that the government add a "proactive deterrent factor" to its passive defense policy.

Its report also proposes creation of a permanent law enabling the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces overseas for international peace-building.

The report urges easing the restrictions on weapons exports and on joining international military-related research, because such curbs have been to Japan's detriment and increased its procurement and development costs.

On regional security, the report highlights the North Korean nuclear and missile threats. In reviewing the April launch of a long-distance ballistic missile by Pyongyang, it says the government should consider developing sensor-equipped spy satellites that can detect missile launches.



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