Even though the Japanese constitution explicitly bans the nation from launching a “first strike” against another nation, a top official in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) claims his nation has the right legally to attack North Korea right now.
The comments were made by Shigeru Ishiba, the Secretary General of the LDP and likely Japan’s next prime minister, who claims attacking North Korea would be “self-defense.”
Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution renounces all uses of force to settle “international disputes” and also forbids the nation from having a standing army (though they keep the Self-Defense Forces, in essence an army).
The LDP has never been too keen on this, however, and Ishiba and fellow LDP leader Shinzo Abe have been outspoken about wanting to scrap the amendment entirely, insisting Japan needs to engage in overseas wars as a matter of “national pride.”
Still and all, LDP efforts to take this out of Japan’s constitution have yet to succeed, and it seems pretty clear that attacking North Korea would be unconstitutional. The SDF also aren’t designed to be an offensive force like Japan’s Imperial Army was, so even if Ishiba et al insist Japan has a “right” to attack it seems wholly impractical for them to even attempt to do so.