Japan is moving forward with a plan to develop missiles capable of striking North Korea, breaking from the country’s post-World War II policy of only having defensive weapons.
Lawmakers from Japan’s ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), approved a proposal to develop the missiles on Wednesday. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of the LDP put forward the plan before leaving office in September.
Under the 1947 Japanese constitution put in place by US occupying forces, Tokyo is only allowed to take military action in self-defense. Abe argued that having the ability to strike missile systems inside North Korea and China as a preemptive strike is necessary for self-defense.
While Abe is out of office, his plan and his party are here to stay. Abe was succeeded by Yoshihide Suga, who served under Abe as his chief cabinet secretary from 2012 to 2020.
The plan to develop offensive missiles is the second postwar norm Japan is preparing to break. In November, Japan and Australia reached an agreement on a new military pact. If approved by Tokyo’s parliament, it will mark the first time in 60 years that Japan allows another foreign military besides the US on its soil.
The US celebrated the defense agreement reached between Japan and Australia. Washington has been looking to build alliances in Asia to counter China. The US, Australia, Japan, and India make up the informal alliance known as the Quad. Last month, the four countries held military drills together for the first time in over a decade, a clear message to Beijing.