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Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 09:45

Japan, US in weapons talks

By Reuters

 Japan, US in weapons talks

TOKYO - Japan and the United States are exploring the possibility of Tokyo acquiring offensive weapons that would allow Japan to project power far beyond its borders, Japanese officials said.

Tokyo's focus would be the ability to take out missile bases of the Democratic People's Repuiblic of Korea (DPRK), said three Japanese officials involved in the process.

They said Tokyo was holding the informal, previously undisclosed talks with Washington. The talks on what Japan regards as a "strike capability" could take various forms, such as submarine-fired cruise missiles similar to the US Tomahawk.

Japan's military is already robust but is constrained by a pacifist Constitution. The Self Defence Forces have dozens of naval surface ships, 16 submarines and three helicopter carriers, with more vessels under construction. Japan is also buying 42 advanced F-35 stealth fighter jets.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has reversed a decade of military spending cuts, ended a ban on Japanese troops fighting abroad and eased curbs on arms exports.

But any deal with Washington is years away.

Japan would like to reach a conclusion in about five years, and then start acquiring hardware, one Japanese official said.

In April, the DPRK said that in the event of war on the Korean Peninsula, Japan would be "consumed in nuclear flames".

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