TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to issue a statement before his Sept. 16 resignation to make clear his new position on ballistic missile defense, government sources said Saturday.
The focus is on whether the outgoing prime minister can publish an in-depth statement at a time when the ruling camp is divided over missile defense. The Liberal Democratic Party wants Japan to possess the capability to attack targets in other countries’ territories, while its junior coalition partner, Komeito, takes a persistently cautious stance.
When he announced his resignation at a press conference on Aug. 28 citing his chronic disease, Abe said the ruling camp will start discussions quickly on Japan’s new missile defense policy to make it more concrete.
Abe is very eager to draw a conclusion on a new national security strategy by the end of this year, according to the sources familiar with the matter.
A decision on whether Japan should effectively have the capability to attack enemy bases will be left to the next administration, but Abe is apparently hoping to prevent the issue from being shelved by announcing the statement before he steps down.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who is considered to be a shoo-in for LDP president, and subsequently prime minister, has suggested that he plans to maintain Abe’s policies, including his national defense strategy.
Still, Abe plans to release the statement late next week before the new LDP president is chosen in the Sept. 14 election, according to the sources.
Government and ruling bloc officials are divided over the issue of enemy base attack capability, and there is an ongoing conflict over the content of the statement, the sources said.
In June, the government started reviewing its national security strategy after scrapping its plan to introduce the Aegis Ashore land-based missile defense system in Japan.
The LDP proposed to Abe in August that the government should consider possessing the capability to block missiles, including strikes against targets in other countries’ territories.