• Kyodo

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South Korea denounced Japanese leaders Tuesday for saying Tokyo needs to consider acquiring the capability to launch pre-emptive strikes on foreign bases, in the wake of North Korea’s missile test-launches last week.

“It is nothing other than a grave situation that Japanese Cabinet ministers repeatedly raised the possibility of launching pre-emptive strikes and the justification of armed actions on the Korean Peninsula,” presidential spokesman Jung Tae Ho was quoted by Yonhap News Agency as saying.

Jung made the remarks in a briefing after a meeting of senior officials at the Blue House presidential office.

South Korea would “sternly respond to arrogance and senseless remarks by Japanese political leaders who are trying to further increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” Jung reportedly said.

Abe told reporters Tuesday that he would not comment on Jung’s remarks.

Earlier this week, Defense Agency Director General Fukushiro Nukaga and Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said Japan needs to promote debate and study on the need to build capability to attack foreign bases, a capability currently lacking with its defense-only military posture.

Nukaga said debate should be promoted on such capability within the scope of the Constitution in the wake of North Korea’s test-firing of a long-range missile.

Abe said there is a need to “deepen discussions” on building the capability to launch a pre-emptive attack on an overseas base, given that the government said in a past Diet session that such action, if no other option is available, falls within the definition of self-defense under the Constitution.

Jung made it clear South Korea would never tolerate North Korea’s “provocative acts” of firing missiles that “seriously destabilize peace and stability in Northeast Asia.”

But he also said Japanese Cabinet leaders “bared their nature inclined to make invasion and (South Korea) cannot but caution against (such nature).”

On Monday, the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry summoned Japanese Ambassador Shotaro Oshima to ask Japan to be more cautious in pushing for a Security Council vote on a resolution calling for sanctions on North Korea.

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