Report: Japan Emperor Abdication Set for March 2019

Japan’s Emperor Akihito will step down on March 31, 2019 and the Crown Prince is expected to ascend the throne in April, a report said Friday, the first imperial retirement in more than two centuries.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet top officials and members of the royal household next month before announcing the date, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported, citing unnamed government sources.

Akihito’s eldest son, 57-year-old Crown Prince Naruhito, will ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne the next day on April 1, the paper said.

The popular 83-year-old Akihito shocked the country last year when he signalled his desire to take a back seat after nearly three decades, citing his age and health problems.

There have been abdications in Japan’s long imperial history, but the last one was more than 200 years ago.

In June, the parliament passed a rule allowing the ageing emperor to step down but the Asahi report is the first time a precise date for the abdication has been mooted.

“It is an immeasurable relief to me that his majesty … can now have days of rest as he reaches an advanced age,” Empress Michiko, who turned 83 Friday, said in a statement.

The abdication law, which applies only to Akihito and not to future emperors, included a resolution to debate letting female royals stay in the imperial family after marriage but did not touch on the controversial topic of allowing women to inherit.

Japan’s top government spokesman denied the Asahi report on Friday.

“We are not aware of the report and there is not such fact,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

“We will continue to discuss appropriately and will do our best to carry out the emperor’s abdication smoothly,” he said.

In Show of Force, US Flies Bombers over Korean Peninsula

Korea

Two US strategic bombers flew over the Korean peninsula on Wednesday in a show of force by Washington against Pyongyang’s aggressive nuclear drive.

A South Korean Defense Ministry official said, requesting anonymity because of department rules, said the bombers simulated missile strikes off the peninsula’s east coast before flying with two South Korean jets to then stage similar drills off the west coast.

The two B-1B supersonic bombers flew from an air base in the US territory of Guam to South Korea for drills with that country’s jets.

The US military said in a separate statement it conducted drills with Japanese fighters after the exercise with South Korea, making it the first time US bombers have conducted training with fighters from both Japan and South Korea at night.

The flights came after a South Korean lawmaker was reported to have revealed that North Korean hackers may have stolen highly classified military documents.

Rep. Lee Cheol-hee, a lawmaker for the ruling Democratic Party who sits on the National Defense Committee, said defense sources told him that North Korean hackers last year stole the classified US-South Korean war plans, including parts of Operational Plan 5015, which includes procedures for a “decapitation strike” on the North’s leadership if a crisis breaks out or appears imminent.

The Defense Ministry after an investigation said in May that North Korea was likely behind the hacking of the Defense Integrated Data Center in September last year, but had refused to confirm media speculation that the decapitation strike plan was compromised.

Defense officials refused to comment Wednesday.

Lee, who didn’t specify his sources, said the plans allegedly stolen by the North include operations for tracking the movement of the North’s leadership, isolating their hideouts, executing air assaults and follow-up actions for securing and eliminating targets, which would obviously include North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“There is an urgent need for the military to change and update parts that were stolen by North Korea,” Lee said.

A preemptive strike against Pyongyang’s leadership would be difficult to undertake, but it’s widely seen as the most realistic of the limited military options Seoul has to deny a nuclear attack from its rival.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump met top defense officials to discuss how to respond to any threat from North Korea.

Tensions have soared between the United States and North Korea following a series of weapons tests by Pyongyang and a string of increasingly bellicose exchanges between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test in recent weeks as it fast advances toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.

Trump hosted a discussion on Tuesday on options to respond to any North Korean aggression or, if necessary, to prevent Pyongyang from threatening the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons, the White House said in a statement.

Trump was briefed by Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford at a national security team meeting, the statement said.

Abe Faces Off against Tokyo Governor as Election Campaign Begins in Japan

Abe

Campaigning for the lower house election kicked off in Japan on Tuesday with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeking to fend off a challenge from the Tokyo governor.

Up for grabs are 465 seats in the more powerful of Japan’s two-chamber parliament.

The October 22 election pits Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition against the less than one-month-old Party of Hope headed by popular Governor Yuriko Koike, a former LDP lawmaker often floated as a possible first female premier.

Her upstart new party has pledged to rid the government of cronyism in a challenge to Abe’s near-five year hold on power.

Abe says he needs to renew his mandate to cope with a “national crisis” stemming from North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat and the demographic time-bomb of Japan’s fast-ageing population.

“We should stay unwavering,” he said. “It is the policies, rather than a boom or slogans, that can open the future.”

The 63-year-old Abe called the poll amid opposition disarray and an uptick in approval ratings that had slid due to a series of scandals over suspected cronyism.

But, the sudden emergence of Koike’s party, which also appeals to conservative voters, could upset Abe’s calculation. The main opposition Democratic Party imploded last month and a big chunk of its candidates are running on the Party of Hope ticket.

Koike, who defied the LDP last year to run for governor, calls her fledgling party a “reformist, conservative” group free from the fetters of vested interests — an often popular campaign slogan in Japan.

“We have a surplus of things in this country, but what we don’t have is hope for the future,” said Koike, 65, kicking off her campaign outside one of Tokyo’s major train stations.

Koike has repeatedly said she won’t run for a seat which would make her eligible for the premiership and has declined to say whom her party would support for the post, leaving the door open to a variety of possible tie-ups including with Abe’s LDP.

Others outside the station were less convinced by Koike’s talk of cleaner politics, while trusting Abe to safeguard national security.

“I doubt she can deliver politics free from vested interests,” said Minori Hiramatsu, a 28-year-old mother of one who was on her way to a job interview.

“Abe has problems domestically, but he is the best person to protect us from North Korean threats.”

The LDP-led coalition is defending a two-thirds “super majority” in parliament’s lower house, so losing its simple majority would be a major upset. Abe’s LDP had 288 seats in the lower house before it was dissolved for the election, while its junior partner the Komeito had 35.

Recent opinion polls show the LDP in the lead and some analysts think Abe could still pull off another landslide victory.

A soggy performance for the LDP, however, could stir calls from inside the party to replace Abe or deny him a third term as leader in September 2018, ending his chances of becoming Japan’s longest-serving premier.

The Party of Hope echoes Abe’s LDP on security and diplomacy – it backs tough sanctions on North Korea and controversial security legislation enacted in 2015 to expand the military’s role overseas.

Koike also agrees with Abe that Japan’s post-war, US-drafted, pacifist constitution should be amended, though not necessarily on what changes are needed.

On economic policies, Koike’s party has sought to differentiate itself by calling for an end to nuclear power by 2030 and a freeze on a sales tax hike planned for 2019.

Abe wants to keep nuclear power as a key part of Japan’s energy mix, and raise the sales tax and spend more of the revenues on education and child care.

A center-left Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, formed from the liberal wing of the failed Democratic Party, is wooing voters dissatisfied with both conservative options.

Constitutional Democratic Party leader Yukio Edano said Abe’s nearly five years of pro-business policies have escalated Japan’s social divide.

“We must regain decent lives,” Edano said. “We are going to change politics into one that is based on the people’s voices, not one that comes down from up above.”

Koichi Nakano, an international politics professor at Sophia University in Tokyo, says the election could be a transition to a less stable political environment as party alliances and re-groupings may continue after the election.

A favorable result for Koike’s party and its possible alliance with Abe’s ruling party would mean a dominance of ultra-conservatives. In that case, Nakano said, “Japan wouldn’t have a viable party system with any significant competition to speak of.”

Japan Ready to Support Saudi SMEs, Increase Joint Investments

Japan

Riyadh – The Saudi-Japanese Business Council discussed on Monday in Riyadh means to overcome obstacles, bolster investments and support the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) sector.

The council said that recent talks between the two countries paved the way for increasing the volume of bilateral trade to reach around $27 billion in 2016, adding that about 6 percent of the Kingdom’s total imports came from Japan, while around 11 percent of Saudi exports were directed toward the Asian country.

Tareq al-Qahtani, head of the Saudi side of the Saudi-Japanese Business Council, noted that Saudi Arabia was one of the countries that attracts foreign investments due to the abundance of natural resources and its economic, political and social stability.

He said he hoped investments would increase remarkably with the establishment of the Saudi-Japanese Investment Company and the implementation of programs aimed at promoting trade and attracting further investments within the framework of Saudi Vision 2030.

The joint meeting held on Monday between the Saudi-Japanese Business Council and the Council of Saudi Chambers reviewed ways to enhance trade and investment relations between the business sectors and introduce investment opportunities available in both countries. It was attended by about 100 Saudi and Japanese investors and representatives of Saudi and Japanese companies operating in different sectors.

For his part, Hiroshi Saito, chairman of the Council’s Japanese side, reaffirmed his country’s readiness to strengthen cooperation with the Kingdom in various sectors and exchange expertise in areas of mutual interest in the light of the Saudi-Japanese Vision 2030.

The Japanese official underlined the importance of enhancing trade cooperation to boost the volume of trade exchange and opening the door to investment to the private sector to reach wider horizons for joint cooperation.

He also expressed his country’s willingness to support the Saudi SMEs sector, noting that Japan had a distinguished experience in this regard.

Kim Jong Un: Nuclear Weapons Safeguarding Peace in Korean Peninsula

Kim

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared on Sunday that his nuclear weapons guaranteed the sovereignty of his country, state media reported.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons are a “powerful deterrent firmly safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia,” Kim said, referring to the “protracted nuclear threats of the US imperialists.”

He made the declaration a day after US President Donald Trump said “only one thing will work” in dealing with the isolated country.

He did not elaborate on what he was referring, but his comments seemed to be a further suggestion that military action was on his mind.

In a speech to a meeting of the powerful Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party, state media said Kim had addressed the “complicated international situation”.

In recent weeks, North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test, and may be fast advancing toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.

North Korea is preparing to test-launch such a missile, a Russian lawmaker who had just returned from a visit to Pyongyang was quoted as saying on Friday.

Trump has previously said the United States would “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary to protect itself and its allies.

The situation proved that North Korea’s policy of “byungjin”, meaning the parallel development of nuclear weapons and the economy was “absolutely right”, Kim Jong Un said in the speech.

“The national economy has grown on their strength this year, despite the escalating sanctions,” said Kim, referring to UN Security Council resolutions put in place to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile program.

The meeting also handled some personnel changes inside North Korea’s secretive and opaque ruling center of power, state media said.

Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, was made an alternate member of the politburo – the top decision-making body over which Kim Jong Un presides.

Alongside Kim Jong Un himself, the promotion makes Kim Yo Jong the only other millennial member of the influential body.

Her new position indicates the 28-year-old has become a replacement for Kim Jong Un’s aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, who had been a key decision maker when former leader Kim Jong Il was alive.

“It shows that her portfolio and writ is far more substantive than previously believed and it is a further consolidation of the Kim family’s power,” said Michael Madden, a North Korea expert at Johns Hopkins University’s 38 North website.

In January, the US Treasury blacklisted Kim Yo Jong along with other North Korean officials over “severe human rights abuses”.

Kim Jong Sik and Ri Pyong Chol, two of the three men behind Kim’s banned rocket program, were also promoted.

State media announced that several other high ranking cadres were promoted to the Central Committee in what the South Korean unification ministry said could be an attempt by North Korea to navigate a way through its increasing isolation.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday that his government fully supports the US stance on pressuring North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, with all options on the table.

In a televised debate Sunday among leaders of major political parties, Abe said North Korea had failed to deliver on past promises to give up its pursuit of nuclear technology made during “six-party” talks with Japan, China, the US, Russia and South Korea.

“They used the framework of the dialogue to earn time so that they could develop their nuclear technology,” Abe said. “As the result, their nuclear capability has reached to this level and we cannot afford being deceived by them again.”

Japan to Test Parcel Deliveries through Drones

Tokyo, London- The Environment Ministry will test parcel delivery services using drones in sparsely populated areas in fiscal 2018, which begins next April, The Jiji Press, Japan’s news agency, quoted officials as saying.

The ministry aims to encourage a shift from truck transportation in regions where fewer parcels are delivered, expecting carbon dioxide emissions to be reduced.

In less populated areas of the country, mainly mountainous regions, parcel delivery services are often inefficient. For example, a truck may be used for a single parcel.

Drones are expected to become an alternative means of delivery, as they are emissions-free and able to make tight turns, the officials said.

In its economic growth strategy adopted in June, the government said it planned to make parcel delivery services by drone available in mountain areas in calendar 2018 and city areas in the 2020s.

Japan Inspects 2 Nissan Plants Days after Recalling over 1 Million Cars

Nissan

The Japanese Transport Ministry carried out on Wednesday spot inspections at two Nissan Motor Co. plants, a week after it had inspected four factories as part of a probe into final checks.

This is the latest embarrassment to the second-biggest Japanese automaker, which only days ago had to recall 1.2 million cars sold in Japan due to irregularities.

The initial four inspections found the automaker had conducted unauthorized final vehicle checks for most domestic models which had not yet been sold, prompting Nissan to suspend new vehicle registrations with the government.

By Monday, Japan’s second-biggest automaker had discovered problematic checks of more vehicles, and said it would recall all new passenger cars sold in Japan over the past three years.

Nissan said on Monday that a team, including an independent third party, was investigating the cause of the oversight and promised to prevent a recurrence. The problem does not affect Nissan vehicles sold outside Japan.

The failure is not believed to have affected vehicle safety as they were final-stage checks, according to the Yokohama-based maker of the March subcompact, Leaf electric car and Infiniti luxury models.

Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa told reporters the oversight occurred at all six Nissan plants in Japan. He acknowledged not enough had been done to ensure inspection staff were aware of inspection requirements.

He estimated the recalls and re-inspections would cost Nissan about 25 billion yen ($222 million), but stressed final costs were still unclear.

This is the second major instance of misconduct involving a Japanese automaker in under two years, after Mitsubishi Motors Corp said it tampered with fuel economy tests for some domestic-market models. While the recall is unlikely to have a significant impact on profitability, it is a blow to Nissan’s reputation just as it enjoys strong domestic sales, analysts said.

In inspecting Nissan’s factories, the ministry found names of certified technicians used on documents to sign off final vehicle checks conducted by non-certified technicians, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

It was possible the practice occurred at most or all of the six plants, said the people, who declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak with media on the matter.

Vehicles sold in Japan must be registered with the government. As part of this process, during final checks, vehicles must undergo an additional procedure performed by plant technicians who can be certified by the automakers.

Nissan confirmed the latest two ministry inspections were at its Tochigi plant and at the Auto Works Kyoto plant owned by an affiliate.

“We are currently conducting an investigation into the nature of this vehicle inspection issue at our plants,” spokesman Nick Maxfield said in an emailed statement. A third-party is also involved in its probe.

Nissan’s recall includes all of the 386,000 new passenger vehicles it sold in Japan in 2016, roughly 10 percent of its global sales. It excludes Nissan-branded mini-vehicles produced by Mitsubishi Motors, which comprise roughly one-third of Nissan’s annual domestic sales.

Nissan shares have fallen more than 2 percent since Friday. They closed down 1.2 percent on Wednesday at 1,089.5 yen.

Trump Approves New Sanctions on Companies Dealing with North Korea

Trump

New York – US President Donald Trump signed a new executive order to impose new sanctions on North Korea, as Washington and its allies attempt to pressure North Korean leader to abandon his nuclear ambitions.

In his sanctions announcement on Thursday at a press conference, Trump announced the additional sanctions on Pyongyang, including on its shipping and trade networks.

Ahead of Trump’s lunch meeting with the leaders of Japan and South Korea on Thursday, he was asked if diplomacy was still possible, Trump nodded and said: “Why not?”

Trump said the new executive order on sanctions gives further authorities to target individual companies and institutions that finance and facilitate trade with North Korea. He explained that it will cut off sources of revenue that fund North Korea’s efforts to develop the deadliest weapons known to humankind.

US Treasury Department now had authority to target those that conduct significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea.

The sanctions also targeted North Korea’s energy, medical, mining, textiles, and transportation industries, in addition, that US Treasury could sanction anyone who owns, controls or operates a port of entry in North Korea.

Washington also announced that banks doing business in North Korea would not be allowed to also operate in the United States.

“Foreign financial institutions are now on notice that going forward they can choose to do business with the United States or with North Korea, but not both,” US Treasury stated.

Trump also declared that China’s Central Bank had instructed other Chinese banks to stop doing business with Pyongyang. Beijing didn’t confirm Trump’s announcement.

In a related matter, ambassadors from 28 EU member states agreed on a package of new autonomous measures against North Korea, and they will now be prepared in detail to be formally approved by a meeting of EU foreign ministers at their October 16 meeting.

The EU plans to reduce how much money North Korean workers in Europe can send home from its current level of 15,000 euros.

In addition, EU plans to add around eight new North Korean officials were likely to be added to the sanctions list, which is also expected to be adopted by EU foreign ministers meeting.

A number of North Korean workers in Poland are also expected to be cut from 500 to 300, which will be discussed during EU’s meeting.

North Korea crisis was dominant over most UN speeches on Thursday including a harsh rhetoric toward North Korea from President Trump who threatened to obliterate the country.

Trump hosted President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan for lunch in New York after which he announced that North Korea’s nuclear weapons and nuclear development is a threat to peace and security in the world, and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime.

“The brutal North Korean regime does not respect its own citizens or the sovereignty of other nations,” Trump added.

Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in made a plea at the United Nations to scale back tensions with North Korea.

“We should manage the North Korea nuclear crisis in a stable manner so that tensions are not escalated too much or peace is not destroyed by accidental military clashes,” Moon said on Thursday at the UN General Assembly.

President Jae-in demanded North Korea to stop its reckless choice of pursuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also urged at UNGA international unity in pressuring North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. He said on Wednesday the “gravity of this threat is unprecedented.”

Abe appealed for nations to fully implement UN sanctions, saying the aid-for-disarmament negotiations had failed in the past two decades and concluded that pressure is needed.

Japanese PM also voiced support for the US stance that “all options are on the table.”

On the other hand, French President Emmanuel Macron said that his country would not turn its back on negotiations concerning North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

In related news, South Korea approved an $8 million aid package for North Korea. South Korea’s unification ministry agreed to provide the funds, which will go towards programmes for infants and pregnant women.

The ministry said humanitarian aid to impoverished North Korea should remain unaffected by rising political tensions on the peninsula.

The aid package did not include cash payments, the ministry said, and there was “realistically no possibility” that it could be of any use to the North Korean military.​​

Japan Elderly Fight Aging with Fitness

Tokyo, London- Many elderly Japanese gathered at a shrine in downtown Tokyo on Monday in sweltering temperatures, belying their age and importance in one of the world’s most rapidly aging societies.

The event to mark Respect for the Aged Day in Japan drew over 200 people in an exercise meant to increase their body strength and balance.

The exercise was more than just symbolic, as the number of people aged 65 and above has risen to a record high of 27.7 percent of Japan’s population, government figures showed.

Significantly, those in this age category who still work has also hit a record, highlighting efforts by the public and private sectors to keep more elderly in the workforce longer to battle labor shortages.

The government estimates, released on Monday, are a stark reminder of the challenges posed by years of a declining birthrate, which is now at 1.45 births per woman. Many economists say a developed country needs a birthrate slightly above 2.0 to prevent its population from shrinking.

China Says Threats Will Not End North Korea Crisis as US Hints at Military Option

Korea

China on Tuesday said that threatening action or rhetoric will not help in resolving the crisis with North Korea only hours after US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said that military options are available.

“Developments in the peninsula nuclear issue up to this point prove that, no matter whether it is military threats in words or in action, they cannot promote and advance a resolution,” the foreign ministry spokesman, Lu Kang, said.

Asked whether there were any military options the United States could take with North Korea that would not put Seoul at grave risk, Mattis said there were, but declined to give details.

“To the contrary, it just adds to tensions and makes achieving the goal of de-nuclearization on the peninsula appear more complicated and difficult to resolve,” the Chinese official added, responding to a question about Mattis’ comments at a regular briefing.

The North has repeatedly defied the United Nations to conduct nuclear and missile tests, the latest being a mid-range missile fired over Japan on Friday, soon after the reclusive nation’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3.

Seoul is within artillery range of North Korea, which is also believed to have a sizable chemical and biological arsenal beyond nuclear and conventional weapons.

Any conflict on the Korean peninsula could lead to bloodshed unseen since the 1950-53 Korean War, which took the lives of more than 50,000 Americans and millions of Koreans and ended in an armed truce, not a peace treaty.

Military options available to the United States range from non-lethal actions such as a naval blockade to enforce sanctions to waging cyber attacks and positioning new US weaponry in South Korea, where the United States has 28,500 troops.

South Korea and the United States, and separately Russia together with China, started military drills on Monday, in a show of force against North Korea.

The Korean peninsula issue must be resolved peacefully, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi stressed during a meeting with his Russian counterpart at the United Nations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump spoke by telephone about keeping pressure on North Korea using economic sanctions imposed through the United Nations, the White House has said.

Meanwhile, Trump will urge during his first speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday world powers to turn up the pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

He will seek to rally the world to help the US and its Asian allies reduce North Korea to pariah status.

Trump’s move on Pyongyang comes as the US ambassador to the United States, Nikki Haley, says that most non-military options have all but been exhausted. The UN Security Council has already imposed several rounds of sanctions on North Korea.

Mattis told reporters that he believed diplomacy and sanctions were so far succeeding in putting more pressure on Pyongyang.

Even as tensions rise, the United States and its allies have stuck to a hands-off policy when North Korea test-fires its missiles. Mattis confirmed that the US would not shoot down a North Korean missile unless it poses a direct threat to the United States or its allies.

North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said on Monday that the more sanctions that Washington and its allies imposed on Pyongyang, the faster it would move to complete its nuclear plans.

South Korea has raised the possibility of reintroducing nuclear weapons to the peninsula. Mattis acknowledged discussing that with his South Korean counterpart but declined to say whether that option was under consideration.

Japan on Tuesday moved a mobile missile-defense system on the northern island of Hokkaido to a base near recent North Korean missile flyover routes.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor unit was deployed at the Hakodate base on southern Hokkaido “as a precaution” as part of government preparations for a possible emergency.

The relocation came after a North Korean missile was test-fired last week and flew over southern Hokkaido and landed in the Pacific off the island’s east coast — the second flyover in less than a month.

The PAC-3 was brought from another base in Yakumo town on Hokkaido, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Hakodate. The system has a range of about 20 kilometers (12 miles).

Four more of Japan’s 34 PAC-3 units, largely used to defend the capital region, were relocated to southwestern Japan recently after North Korea warned of sending missiles toward the US territory of Guam.

Japan currently has a two-step missile defense system. First, Standard Missile-3 interceptors on Aegis destroyers in the Sea of Japan would attempt to shoot down missiles mid-flight. If that fails, surface-to-air PAC-3s would try to intercept them.

Japan’s Constitution, which limits the use of force to self-defense, only allows the military to shoot down missiles that are heading to Japan, or debris falling onto Japanese territory. Onodera has said a new security law passed in 2015 might allow it to shoot down a Guam-bound missile if it poses a critical security threat to Japan and its top ally, the United States.