Before Resigning, Prime Minister Makes A Final Push To Strengthen Japan’s Military – NPR

As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe steps down, Japan is poised to fulfill his vision of a more assertive military posture with a missile defense system, spurred by President Trump’s disdain for allies.

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, is stepping down this week after eight years in office. With his career ending, he has made a final push to strengthen Japan’s military. As NPR’s Anthony Kuhn reports from Seoul, that push could affect the balance of power in Asia.

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: At a press briefing last month to announce his resignation, Abe said the country faces an increasingly harsh security environment.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE: (Speaking Japanese).

KUHN: “North Korea has greatly improved its ballistic missile capabilities,” he said. He questioned if it’s enough just to be able to intercept those missiles and later suggested Japan also needs a missile arsenal as a deterrent. That could alter the security landscape in Asia. Sheila Smith, a Japan expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, points out that at the moment…

SHEILA SMITH: Japan is the only country in Northeast Asia that does not maintain ballistic missiles.

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