By Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo
TOKYO (Reuters) – Rattled by North Korean military advances, influential Japanese lawmakers are pushing harder for Japan to develop the ability to strike preemptively at the missile facilities of its nuclear-armed neighbor.
Japan has so far avoided taking the controversial and costly step of acquiring bombers or weapons such as cruise missiles with enough range to strike other countries, relying instead on its U.S. ally to take the fight to its enemies.
But the growing threat posed by Pyongyang, including Monday’s simultaneous launch of four rockets, is adding weight to an argument that aiming for the archer rather than his arrows is a more effective defense.
“If bombers attacked us or warships bombarded us, we would fire back. Striking a country lobbing missiles at us is no different,” said Itsunori Onodera, a former defense minister who heads a ruling Liberal Democratic Party committee looking at how Japan can defend against the North Korean missile threat. “Technology has advanced and the nature of conflict has changed.”