A PAC-3 Patriot missile unit is seen deployed in the compound of Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Thursday. Photo: AP/Shizuo Kambayashi
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told Thursday’s parliamentary session that a missile attack on the U.S. territory would breach the U.S. deterrence against an attack on Japan. He said that would be a Japanese national emergency because it would threaten Japan’s existence as a nation.
He said Japan in that case can exercise the right to “collective” self-defense and activate the Aegis destroyer ship-to-air missile defense system.
Onodera’s comment underscores Japan’s growing military role and reverses its previous position that it can only shoot down missiles headed to Japan.
A defense law that took effect last year allows Japan’s military to defend U.S. and other allies when they come under enemy attack.
According to North Korea’s stated plan, its Hwasong-12 missiles would fly over Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi prefectures, on their way to Guam.
Experts say Japan does not currently have the capability to shoot down a missile flying over its territory headed for Guam.
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