Posted February. 15, 2005 22:37,
In the Cabinet ministers` meeting today, the Japanese government passed a revised Self Defense Force Bill, which includes vesting field commanders the authority to launch interceptor missiles against ballistic arsenals from enemy countries.
Existing law requires decision from emergency Cabinet meetings and the Diet`s approval to launch interceptors. The law was considered unrealistic because immediate response is essential against a missile attack. The new bill will lift some of these unnecessary steps.
The bill, however, does not correspond to the long-standing Japanese government`s principle that critical decisions which may lead to an armed conflict with other nations should not be made by the military alone, and could bring controversy once it submitted to the Diet and discussion commences.
The revised Self Defense Force bill, assuming introduction of MD system, gives the prime minister the authority to launch interceptor missiles if any ballistic arsenal is headed towards Japan, and empowers the minister of national defense to order a missile launch according to the emergency response plan in a critical situation.
The reason behind Japan`s movement to simplify the process for launching interceptor missiles is the threat of North Korea`s ballistic missiles such as Rodong No.1, which could reach Japanese soil within 10 minutes.
Japanese Defense Minister Yoshinori Ohno said at the press conference held today that the purpose of the revised bill is for all-time readiness through an emergency response plan against any missile attack without preliminary signs, suggesting that the launch order will be given to Self Defense Force in normal times.