Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has caused a commotion by calling for a study on whether Japan can intercept a missile heading to the United States, an act that critics say would violate the Constitution. The official government position is that Japan, under its constitutional constraints, cannot shoot down a ballistic missile for the defense of a third country
I don't understand why the peace constitution bans shooting down the aggressive missile heading to the US. It is not setting fire, rather it is extinguishing the fire.
Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.
The point is how to interpret "as means of settling international dispute". Sure in one interpretation, the use of force is forbidden unless it is in the case of self-defence. However, the point of Article 9 is to prevent Japan to become an aggressor. Intercepting missiles is not an aggressive action, and it is rather for the prevention of the (authentic) use of force as a means of settling international dispute. I think this interpretation is in line with the spirit of the article.
Similarly, the government said Japan cannot intercept a missile in the midcourse phase, outside the Earth's atmosphere, unless it is clearly coming in Japan's directionasahi
This is an stupid argument. When it turns out it is clearly coming in Japan's direction, it wil be probably too late.