A national security panel of the Liberal Democratic Party has proposed that Japan acquire an enemy base strike capability, in a move to counter growing missile and other security threats in the region, ruling party lawmakers said Friday.
Whether to push for the controversial plan to possess such capability has been the key issue for a major policy review into Japan's security by year-end, at a time when China and North Korea are ramping up their military activities.
Having such capability remains politically sensitive in Japan given its exclusively defense-oriented policy under the war-renouncing Constitution.
Under a set of draft proposals compiled by the LDP panel, Japan will introduce the enemy base strike capability that will not only target missile bases but also disable the command and control systems.
Japan will maintain its defense-oriented posture and limit its use of force for self-defense to a necessary minimum, specifically taking into account factors such as the international security situation at the time, according to the proposals.
The proposals were crafted as part of the government's revision of the National Security Strategy, or the long-term guideline, and two other key documents on defense.
The LDP will finalize them next week for submission sometime this month to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who has said the government will "examine all options necessary for national defense."
With the military buildup of North Korea and China in mind, the LDP panel has assessed it is hard to intercept ballistic missiles amid the rapid advancement of missile technology.
The panel will also look into possibly changing the wording "enemy strike capability," as sought by some of its members, in a way that would highlight Japan's counterattack as being more for self-defense.
But critics fear that doing so could expand the targets for which the capability would be used without much debate and steer away from Japan's defense-oriented policy.
In the wake of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, the panel also proposed reviewing the current three principles on the transfer of defense equipment and technology that has set strict conditions for arms exports. It also sought for Japan to consider the export of lethal defense equipment to countries that had been invaded.
The panel also seeks in its draft proposals to use stronger wording in describing the security threats posed by Russia and China, the sources said.
China has been stepping up its military activities in waters near Japan, while a slew of North Korea's ballistic missile tests from earlier this year has raised concerns over Japan's defense capability, which is heavily reliant on its security alliance with the United States.
The proposals also state that Japan should aim to raise its defense spending to at least 2 percent of the gross domestic product by around five years, to be on par with the 2 percent defense spending goal of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Japan's defense budget currently stands at around 1 percent of the GDP.