“North Korea poses a serious and realistic threat to Japan,” former defense chief Gen Nakatani said today in Tokyo at a meeting of Liberal Democratic Party officials. “We must look at active missile defense such as attacking an enemy’s territory and bases.”Japan has kept a low profile militarily since World War Two, partially because of its constitution, but also because it has focused on economic development and trade under the aegis of U.S. military protection. But here you have a prominent legislator and former defense chief, calling for the country to seriously consider launching preemptive strikes.
Most analysts agree that China is the only country with significant influence over North Korea. It maintains the North as a client state as a counterbalance to South Korea, a U.S. ally. It is unlikely that North Korea could have developed nuclear weapons if the Chinese had seriously opposed it. But China is playing a dangerous game. Does it really want to force Japan's hand? Would a militarily stronger Japan willing to carry out preemptive strikes on potential enemies be in China's best interests?