Japan eyes possible attack on hostile bases in guidelines with U.S.

Japan's defense chief indicated Tuesday that revised bilateral defense guidelines with the United States could define Japan's capacity to mount attacks on the military bases of hostile nations.

"Japan would like to jointly consider with the United States how (the two countries) can complement each other (regarding the issue of Japan maintaining a capacity to carry out such attacks) and how the issue can be defined in the guidelines," Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said in a speech.

Referring to North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile development, Onodera said the two allies "need to thoroughly study a possible attack on (hostile bases) in the event of a missile launch clearly targeting Japan," Onodera said.

During a meeting last week in Brunei, Onodera and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel agreed to consider the issue, and to start work to revise the Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines.

The guidelines define the role of Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military, and the revision is aimed at enabling the two allies to better cope with the changing security environment in the Asia-Pacific region.

On Tuesday, Onodera also called for debate in Japan on whether to lift the country's self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense, or defending an ally under armed attack.

Referring to China's growing maritime activity from the East China Sea to the Pacific, including repeated Chinese intrusions into Japanese waters around the Senkaku Islands, the defense minister stressed the necessity of introducing unmanned reconnaissance aircraft to monitor Chinese naval movements.

The Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea have been administered by Japan, but are claimed by China where the uninhabited islets are called the Diaoyu.