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Editorial: DPRK missile launch – Cooperation among five countries indispensable for East Asia

  • 2016-02-08 15:00:00
  • , Tokyo Shimbun
  • Translation

(Tokyo Shimbun: February 8, 2016 – p. 5)

 

 North Korea conducted a nuclear test and a missile launch within about one month. Five countries, including Japan, who have security interests in the Korean Peninsula, should hasten to strengthen their solidarity to address the situation. Unless they act in concert, they won’t be able to prevent the North’s provocative action.

 

 A long-range ballistic missile, which North Korea calls an earth observation satellite, flew over the Senkaku Islands of Okinawa Prefecture. There were no reports of falling objects or damage.

 

 It was difficult to predict when Pyongyang would launch a missile, because North Korea built an additional underground facility and transferred a missile and fueled it while putting in place a cover on the launch pad so as not to be detected by U.S. reconnaissance.

 

 The missile launch was implemented one day earlier than notified. Although the deployment of Self-Defense Forces (SDF) PAC-3 Patriot missiles and three Aegis destroyers was completed before the launch of the missile, it can be taken to mean that the North’s missile launch taught the SDF a lesson on whether it was able to respond fully to “a diversionary action.”

 

 We wonder if North Korea was able to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of striking the U.S. mainland. The U.S., in cooperation with Japan and South Korea, must examine the details of the missile launch, including the distance it traveled and the weight of its payload.

 

 If North Korea promotes nuclear and missile development, the East Asian situation will become more serious.

 

 The five relevant countries must address once again in a coordinated manner the crisis that faces them. It is inevitable that the UN Security Council will apply stricter sanctions on North Korea. Although China is reluctant to impose an oil embargo that might lead to creating turmoil in North Korea or drastically reduce trade, in order to make sanctions effective, China’s cooperation is indispensable.

 

 Japan, a non-permanent UNSC member, is required to call on China and Russia to appreciate the reasons for sanctions on North Korea.

 

 The South Korean Defense Ministry announced that South Korea and the United States will launch consultations on the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

 

 However, China is strongly reacting because the system enables Seoul and Washington to gather intelligence on missile activity on the Chinese mainland. The three countries should exchange views sufficiently because discord between the U.S. and South Korea and China will benefit North Korea.

 

 South Korean leader Kim Jong Un intends to strengthen his power at the convention of the Korean Workers’ Party in May. He apparently will uphold the military expansion policy. Japan, the U.S., South Korea, China, and Russia in cooperation should continue sending the message to Kim that it will be difficult for him to develop the economy and reconstruct his country as long as he takes a hardline stance. (Slightly abridged)

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