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Pacifist Japan studied pre-emptive attack on NKorea in 1994

AFP | April 8, 2005

Officially pacifist Japan in 1994 studied the possibility of a pre-emptive attack on North Korea amid fears of a missile launch, even though it lacked the military capability, an official and a report said Friday.

The Sankei Shimbun said the Defense Agency conducted a simulation on mobilizing fighter jets in the event of an imminent missile threat by the Stalinist state.

Asked about the report, Defense Agency Director-General Yoshinori Ono said: "I checked if such a thing took place and received a report that it likely did."

Ono stressed that Japan remained pacifist.

"The principle of our country is defense-only, and we have maintained the stance of not having such (offensive) capabilities," he said.

"Even if it is theoretically and legally possible to attack enemy land, we should not have the capabilities and do not have them at the moment. The Japan-US security alliance supplements it," he said.

The Sankei said the 1994 study was conducted amid rising concerns over North Korean threats as a year earlier Pyongyang test-fired an intermediate-range Rodong-1 missile into the Sea of Japan (East Sea) between them.

In 1998, North Korea shocked the world by firing a long-range Taepodong-1 missile over Japan into the Pacific Ocean, leading Tokyo and Washington to start working on a ballistic missile defense system for Japan.

Concerns have been mounting again about North Korea, which is boycotting six-nation talks on its nuclear ambitions and is embroiled in a separate row with Japan over the fate of Japanese people kidnapped by the regime.

Japan's constitution of 1947 imposed by the United States after World War II renounces the right to have a military or even threaten the use of force in international disputes.

A poll published Friday by the Yomiuri Shimbun found that 61 percent of Japanese voters favored revising the war-renouncing constitution as planned by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

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