In recent years, the Japanese government has attempted to upgrade its ballistic missile defense (BMD) capability to an integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) system. The deployment of Aegis Ashore to Akita and Yamaguchi prefectures was considered to be one of the integral components of the nation’s IAMD system. Then Defense Minister Taro Kono announced in June that Japan would abandon the deployment of Aegis Ashore, and as a result, Japanese strategists and parliamentarians, especially the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, resumed a debate over the option of possessing a strike capability against enemy bases. Some Japanese military analysts, especially Yoshiaki Yano, a visiting professor at Gifu Women’s University, have even contended that Japan should possess nuclear weapons in lieu of Aegis Ashore.
The policy debate over Japan’s acquisition of a strike capability against enemy bases is not a new topic. In light of the re-interpretation of Article 9 of the Constitution in relation to possession and use of a strike capability against enemy bases, the government has explained that it is not unconstitutional for Japan to possess such a strike capability for the purpose of self-defense.