North Korea launches ballistic missile over Japan: US shadow

North Korea launches ballistic missile over JapanUS shadow

Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

North Korea is modernizing its military program in Northeast Asia aimed at America, Japan, and South Korea. In the past, Japan took a more passive stance. Hence, even during the Tiananmen Square crisis in Communist China, the government of Japan didn’t apply hostile policies. On the contrary, Japan continued to focus on the economic angle between China and Japan. 

Japan’s increasing assertiveness – notably Prime Minister Fumio Kishida taking a hostile policy toward the Russian Federation – is noticeable. The late Shinzo Abe sought positive relations with the Russian Federation. Also, the Kishida administration is increasingly incorporating Taiwan into the national security doctrine of Japan.

America is encouraging Japan to take a more assertive approach to China and the Russian Federation. Also, America is behind a fresh arms race in Northeast Asia. Therefore, North Korea is intent on modernizing its military potential.

The launch of a ballistic missile by North Korea that entered Japan’s airspace is nothing new – even if the first time since 2017. Reuters reports, “It was the first North Korean missile to follow such a trajectory since 2017, and its estimated 4,600 km (2,850 miles) range was the longest traveled by a North Korean test missile, which are usually “lofted” high into space to avoid flying over neighboring countries.”

Similar to China launching missiles and showing its military might near Taiwan – in response to America’s increasing interference: North Korea is also responding to the U.S. aircraft carrier that docked in South Korea. Hence, the five missile launches conducted by North Korea have followed this event. Therefore, Japan can’t ignore the American angle to recent events – even if Japan rightly condemns North Korea. 

The BBC reports, “The launch comes as Japan, the US and South Korea have been working together to strengthen their defenses, in response to the growing threat posed by the North.”

NHK reports, “The government says the Japanese Self-Defense Forces did not use any measures to destroy the missile. Officials have not reported any damage in Japan. It is the 7th time that a ballistic missile has flown over the country, and the first time in five years.”

President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea said it was a “reckless” provocation and that North Korea will “face a decisive response.” 

In a nutshell, Japan and South Korea play the American card because both nations overtly rely on America. Therefore, with the leaders of Japan and South Korea being pro-America to an extreme – even if South Korea is more neutral concerning China and the Taiwan issue – the fear is that the military arms race is further creating tensions along with America’s containment policy of China (economically and geopolitically)

The questions for Japan are (1) does the country feel better protected by involving itself in Taiwan and Ukraine concerning pro-America objectives and adopting anti-China and anti-Russian Federation policies – (2) also, does Japan feel more secure with China, North Korea, and the Russian Federation enhancing certain angles to their military capabilities because of the fear of America – for example, nuclear weapons and hypersonic weapons – (3) or would Japan feel more secure if the nation remained close to America but adopted policies to reach out to China, North Korea, and the Russian Federation?

It seems that the current Japanese government under Kishida is intent on doublings the military budget and joining America in condemning China and the Russian Federation “at the drop of a Washington hat.” Hence, the military arms race in Northeast Asia will continue – similar to other parts of the world – because the American angle is potent. 

Hopefully, nations in Northeast Asia will seek to break free from the legacy of history – and the entanglement of America – and solve complex issues. 

Japan and South Korea need to become independent – while preserving good relations with America.

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