Japan PM calls for strengthening defence posture

Tokyo: As Tokyo faces an assertive China and an unpredictable North Korea,  Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Monday that Japan will fundamentally enhance its defence posture by looking at options such as having the power to strike enemy bases. Three major documents outlining Japan's security such as the National Security Strategy, National Defense Program Guidelines, and Medium-Term Defense Program - will be refreshed in a year, he added, as part of a plan to strengthen the country's defence capabilities.

"In order to protect people's lives and livelihoods, we'll look at all possibilities, including the ability to attack enemy bases and fundamentally enhance our defence posture with a sense of urgency," Kishida said in a policy address. Such a capacity would represent a shift in Japan's military stance, since Tokyo, bound by its post-World War II pacifist constitution, is expected to play the role of the shield in its security alliance with the US, while Washington is expected to play the role of the spear. On Japan's coronavirus response, Kishida said he intended to make it feasible to get a booster shot without having to wait for the government-mandated eight-month waiting period after the second shot.

Although daily COVID-19 infections have remained low in recent weeks, calls for early booster doses have grown in Japan as the highly transmissible Omicron strain of the coronavirus spreads globally. If diseases begin to spread again, the government would move quickly with measures such as tighter activity limits, "while cautiously seeking the people's understanding," Kishida said.

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