DPRK launches may get ‘imminent’ threat label

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe government is considering whether to designate North Korean ballistic missile launches into Japanese territorial waters as “imminent armed attack situations” enabling it to order the Self-Defense Forces to take defensive actions, according to sources.

The government determined it necessary to assume an appropriate defensive posture amid mounting provocations by North Korea, which is moving ahead with its nuclear and missile development.

The security-related laws stipulate three emergency scenarios that fall within the scope of the right of individual self-defense and thus allow for SDF mobilization. From lowest to highest degree of urgency, they are “anticipated armed attack situation,” “imminent armed attack situation” and “armed attack situation.”

The anticipated armed situation, in which the possibility of an armed attack on Japan is high, enables the SDF to construct defense facilities. The imminent armed attack situation, in which the danger of being attacked is clear and imminent, enables the government to order defensive operations and deploy the SDF to the front lines.

The armed attack situation, in which an actual armed attack has been recognized, enables the government to exercise the right of individual self-defense and make an armed counteroffensive. In reality, there have been no occasions on which the three situations have been recognized by the government.

According to the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, the government defines an armed attack by a foreign country as “organized, planned use of force toward Japan’s territory, territorial waters and airspace.”

A ballistic missile that reaches Japan’s territorial waters falls under the definition of an armed attack by a foreign country.

However, a government source said, “It’s difficult to believe that North Korea is aiming for a full-scale armed attack under the current situation.” Many in the government share this opinion.

While the imminent attack scenario enables the SDF to deploy to the front lines in preparation for a potential war, concerns about overreacting to and thus exacerbating a situation are believed to be behind the government’s idea to designate a missile launch by Pyongyang into Japanese territorial waters as the stage prior to the use of force.Speech

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