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With North Korea continuing to ramp up ballistic missile tests, American and Japanese policy actors face new pressure to address the growing North Korean nuclear missile threat. In fact, former Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party spent the May Golden Week holiday in Washington explaining his LDP study group’s recommendation for Japan to consider acquiring for the first time counterattack capabilities against enemy targets, in addition to expanding missile defenses.

This could be a major step for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — who has been seeking to reinterpret and revise Japan’s postwar pacifist Constitution — as well as a boon for U.S. policymakers looking for new avenues to pressure North Korea. But is it worth the potentially high political and fiscal costs for the Japanese government to pursue missile-strike capabilities and enabling infrastructure?

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