Japan says counterstrike capabilities won't change country's role in defense

Japanese Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu says Japan's counterstrike capabilities won't change the roles of the country or the United States in national defense.

Hamada was referring to comments by Prime Minister Kishida Fumio in a Diet session earlier in the week.

Asked by the opposition party whether the capabilities would change the fundamental roles of Japan as the "shield" and the US as the "spear," Kishida had replied that Japan would no longer have to rely entirely on the strike capabilities of the US. He said the counterstrike capabilities would strengthen Japan's ability to shield its people.

Hamada said on Friday that the Defense Ministry considers counterstrike capabilities to be part of the country's missile defense system designed to protect peoples' lives and livelihoods against missile attacks. He stressed that counterstrike capabilities aim to strengthen deterrence, and that a spear would not be the right metaphor for it.

Hamada said Japan will focus on defense and that the US will assist the Self-Defense Forces and provide extended deterrence.