The Daily Manila Shimbun


Japan may shoot down Guam-bound N. Korea missiles: minister

August 11, 2017

TOKYO- Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera indicated Thursday that it is possible for Japan to shoot down North Korean ballistic missiles aimed at areas around Guam by exercising the right to collective self-defense based on the country's national security laws.

"A weakening of the US deterrent power or its ability to attack could threaten Japan's existence," Onodera said at a meeting of the Committee on Security of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the Diet, Japan's parliament.

The US Pacific island territory of Guam hosts key American military facilities, including the Andersen Air Force Base.

Japan's national security laws, which came into force in March 2016, allow the country to exercise the right to collective self-defense following an attack on a country in close ties with Japan thought to pose a clear danger to Japan's existence.

Under the laws, Japan has to meet three requirements to use force. The three are that there is an explicit danger, there are no alternative means to protect the country and Japan uses minimum necessary force.

Asked if Japan is able to shoot down North Korean missiles heading for Guam, Onodera said, "We can make various responses if the situation meets the three requirements (under the national security laws)."

The use of force depends on whether the situation fulfills the requirements, he added.

Before the laws came into force, Japan had already assumed that it could exercise its collective self-defense right to intercept missiles headed to the United States, a key ally of Japan.

The security laws also allow Japan to offer the US military and others logistical support if it recognizes a situation that is not seen as threatening the country's existence but could significantly impact peace and security in Japan.

On the question of whether Japan would provide such support if US aircraft attacked North Korea, Onodera did not clarify the government's stance.

"We're not in the position to discuss specific scenarios," he added.

On Thursday, North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that Pyongyang is considering firing four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missiles into waters off the coast of Guam, quoting a high-ranking military officer.

The missiles would travel over western Japan before reaching their destination, according to the report. Jiji Press