Newly appointed Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera has said he will consider the option of allowing the Self-Defense Forces to acquire the capability to directly attack North Korean missile bases amid escalating concerns over Pyongyang's rapidly growing weapons programs.

"We should consider it from the perspective of what Japan can do to beef up the deterrent capability of the Japan-U.S. alliance and protect the lives and property of the Japanese people," Onodera said in a joint interview Friday with media outlets including The Japan Times.

At the same time, Onodera carefully chose his words, saying he will facilitate debate on how to improve "Japan's overall ability to deal with ballistic missiles" from the North.