POLITICS

Japan mulls first-strike capability against North Korea

Japan is considering the development new weapons systems to prepare a first-strike against North Korea's nuclear program, according to Japanese lawmakers.

"It is time we acquired the capability," said Hiroshi Imazu, a legislator who helps set security policy for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's political party, according to Reuters. "I don't know whether that would be with ballistic missiles, cruise missiles or even the F-35 [fighter bomber], but without a deterrence North Korea will see us as weak."

Such an armament would represent the boldest expansion of Japanese offensive capabilities since World War II, in a country that has created constitutional restrictions on military development. But North Korea's increasing pattern of aggression in the region has neighbors looking for new ways to counteract the dictatorship.

U.S. military aircraft delivered the first components of a missile defense system to South Korea on Tuesday, two days after North Korea launched four missiles in the direction of Japanese territorial waters in apparent protest of U.S. and South Korean military exercises. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is traveling to the region next week to discuss plans for cracking down on the regime, which may include military options.

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