Keiichiro Asao, Defense Minister for the DPJ’s “Next Cabinet” appeared on TV Asahi today and said something eminently sensible: “If all the [200 give or take a few dozen] Rodong Missiles that North Korea has came flying at us, we wouldn’t be able to shoot them down all of them.” So true. I suppose that is what the U.S. nuclear umbrella is there for: to act as a deterrent so that the North Korean authorities don’t start thinking that they could use the threat of a nuclear attack to wrest some serious concessions from Japan (and a nuclear Japan does not become anything more than a conservative nationalists’ pipe dream.) But then Asao went on to say: “We shouldn’t have nuclear weapons, but unless we have the capacity to strike at the other side’s bases, we won’t be able to hedge the risk.”
Now Rodongs are land-mobile , which means that they could be stationed anywhere in North Korea. Given their use of liquid fuel, they could have fixed-location fueling stations that could be vulnerable to attack. But do the Japanese or, more likely U.S., authorities know where they are? If not, then Asao is really talking about a Japanese retaliatory capacity.