North Korea weapons program: Japan watching from afar
Kanako Mita and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The Korean Peninsula is witnessing an upsurge in new sophisticated weapons. Hence, North Korea and South Korea – despite tensions not being heightened in recent times – are focused on strengthening their respective military capabilities.
However, for Japan, this nation is witnessing events from afar. This relates to the former leader of America, Donald Trump, who sought negotiations with North Korea – and the current leader Joe Biden whose administration kept sensitive information away from Japan during the pull out of Afghanistan. Therefore, Japan’s closest ally left Japan out of the loop both times when it came to sensitive information.
Relations between Japan and South Korea in recent years are also negative. Thus, while America seeks greater unity between Japan and South Korea, it seems apparent that South Korea seeks to utilize its own military modernization and refrain from being entangled by America’s anti-China policies. Therefore, with Japan witnessing the recent American debacle in Afghanistan – and noticing major military developments in China, North Korea, the Russian Federation, and South Korea – it seems realistic that Japan will eventually follow a more independent policy even if the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) loathes to move too far away from the political elites in Washington.
Concerning the recent launches by North Korea, Reuters reports, “North Korea appeared to test-fire a ballistic missile on Tuesday that may be more advanced than a “hypersonic” one it launched less than a week ago, South Korea’s military said, as Pyongyang pursues increasingly powerful weapons.”
The BBC reports, concerning hypersonic weapons, “Unlike ballistic missiles, which travel in a largely predictable parabola, making them vulnerable to interception, hypersonic weapons can traverse laterally, close to the earth’s surface and hit a target in a much shorter flight time.”
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, said, “That North Korea continues to launch missiles is extremely regrettable.”
The Guardian reports, “South Korea’s national security council expressed “strong regret” that the missile test had come at a time of fragile regional stability, and urged North Korea to resume dialogue and cooperation, the presidential Blue House said in a statement.”
Kim Yo Jong, the sister of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, uttered last year it is an “illogical attitude that describes their similar behavior as a legitimate action to support peace, and ours as a threat to peace.”
She continued, “I think that only when impartiality and the attitude of respecting each other are maintained, can there be a smooth understanding between the North and the South.”
North Korea and South Korea are determined to modernize their military capabilities. Also, witnessing America’s recent history in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria – and the reduction of America’s interest in the Middle East and falling behind in several areas military wise with China and the Russian Federation – it seems certain that Japan must alter its own defense policies similar to South Korea.
America will continue to be an essential ally of Japan and South Korea for the foreseeable future. However, it is clear that South Korea is focusing more on itself and refraining from America’s anti-China containment policies.
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