[JURIST] Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe [BBC profile] said on Monday that Japan is considering whether launching a pre-emptive strike on North Korean missile bases would violate its constitution if there is no other option to prevent an attack from North Korea [JURIST news archive]. Though Article 9 [Wikipedia backgrounder] of the post-World War II Japanese constitution [text] bars the use of military force in international disputes and prohibits the country from maintaining its military for the purpose of warfare, the statement indicates that Japan could choose to take stronger action against North Korea if the UN Security Council [official website] rejects a resolution circulated by Japan [JURIST report] Friday that would direct states under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter to take whatever steps necessary to prevent North Korea from obtaining materials that could be used in their missile program. Japan circulated the draft with the support of the United States, Britain and France before the Security Council began consideration of a milder draft resolution [JURIST report] it had previously proposed to block UN member states from providing North Korea with money, materials or technology that contribute to a nuclear program.
China and Russia have both openly voiced opposition to Japan's tougher draft resolution, which also retains the option of sanctions against North Korea if it continues to launch test missiles [VOA report]. Russia has opposed sanctions, advocating instead a strongly-worded condemnation of last week's missile tests, and China has yet to say whether it would vote against a resolution or abstain from a vote on the drafts. Still awaiting a UN vote on the Japan resolution, Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Aso said Sunday that Russia could abstain from voting, leaving China as the sole country to potentially veto the Japan resolution. Insisting it is within its legal rights [JURIST report], North Korea has said it will continue missile launches, and has threatened to use force if the international community tries to stop its tests. AP has more.
6:25 PM ET - US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton said Monday that the Security Council's vote on a resolution responding to the North Korean missile launches has been delayed in order to allow more time for diplomacy to proceed. AP has more.