U.S. forces would be Japan’s only defense against an attack by North Korea, a Japanese defense chief said Monday.

Defense Agency Chief Shigeru Ishiba told the House of Representatives Budget Committee that the Japanese government would not allow its forces to fight back against an attack by North Korea, Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported.

A ballistic missile launched from North Korea could reach Japan within 10 minutes, according to the defense agency.

Japan is working with the United States to develop a missile defense system. No country has one in place, said Maj. Manabu Shimamoto, a Japan Defense Agency official.

“There are no measures against ballistic missiles,” he said.

If a missile hit Japan, the government could dispatch Self-Defense Force troops for disaster relief. But a cabinet vote and security council agreement would be needed before Japan’s forces could fight back, Shimamoto said.

U.S. Forces Japan officials said Tuesday they could not comment on Japan’s defense.

North Korea launched a scheduled test missile last week, raising fears in the region about that country’s missile capabilities.

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