May 2 (UPI) — Japan’s political opposition and civic groups are objecting to Tokyo’s policies after the largest naval ship in the nation, the Izumo, left Yokosuka naval base to protect a U.S. supply ship.
In a sign that not all in Japan share Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s view that the army needs to increase capabilities, Japanese politicians said military options should not be considered over diplomatic solutions, Kyodo news agency reported Monday.
“North Korea‘s nuclear and missile development can never be tolerated, but it should not trigger a military option over a diplomatic solution,” said Kazuo Shii, a Japanese politician and chairman of the Japanese Communist Party.
The civic group Yokosuka Peace Squadron also issued a statement protesting Defense Minister Tomomi Inada’s decision to demonstrate the U.S.-Japan military alliance.
“The strength of the U.S. military is more than enough,” the group said, according to Kyodo. “Why are we deploying the Izumo?”
The U.S. supply ship moving under the protection of the 19,500-ton Izumo is expected to provide refueling to other U.S. vessels in waters near Japan, according to multiple press reports.
Shii said Monday the deployment only “escalates tensions in Northeast Asia.”
“If the U.S. administration of Donald Trump engages in a military attack on North Korea, it will have a destructive impact on regional peace and stability, and there is danger Japan will have to engage in the war,” the Japanese politician said.
Japan’s self-defense forces have so far been unable to attack incoming North Korea missiles.
Projectiles that landed in Japanese territorial waters were not intercepted in 2016 and 2017.
In March, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said North Korea’s threats have “entered a new stage,” and Japan “should have the capability to confront enemy bases.”
A review of the matter should begin immediately, the LDP said.