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Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma said Friday that Japan needs cluster bombs for national defense, emphasizing the Self-Defense Forces would not use them for attacking other countries.

Kyuma said Japan, with its long coastlines, needs the devastating antipersonnel weapons because it would be “very difficult” to protect the country from invasion once opposing forces have landed.

He was responding to questions from reporters on Japan’s stance of not supporting a proposed global treaty banning cluster munitions, under discussion at an international conference this week in Lima.

“The problem with cluster bombs is that they are all being used by the attacking side,” Kyuma said. “For Japan, it’s the other way around.”

Cluster bombs are dropped from planes and open in midair to disperse hundreds of bomblets that explode on impact, killing troops and destroying equipment. But many fail to explode and effectively become land mines.

Kyuma said it’s certain “that we will not use them to attack others under the current Constitution.”

Kyuma suggested Japan might consider abandoning cluster bombs if it can find an alternative with similar effects.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said Japan will deal with the issue by seeking a balance between the weapon’s humanitarian and security aspects.

Nago to get subsidies

Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma said Friday he believes Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, is eligible for government subsidies because it agreed to the relocation of U.S. Marine operations there but might not receive the full amount because it asked for a change in the plans.

Nago “has said it will accept (the relocation) . . . so if one reads the law in a straightforward manner, it is unthinkable that this place would not be eligible,” Kyuma told a news conference. “But whether it would receive 100 percent of the subsidies is a different matter.”

The Diet enacted a law this week to help with the implementation of plans to realign U.S. military forces in Japan that includes subsidies for local governments based on the degree to which they cooperate.

A senior Defense Ministry official had said Nago would not get any subsidies because it had asked for the plans to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan to Cape Henoko be changed to move a landing strip further offshore. Kyuma said that Nago basically has accepted the relocation plan and has also approved a central government survey of the area for the airfield.

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