Katsuyuki Kawai, Special Advisor to the Liberal Democratic Party President for Foreign Affairs
North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan again soon after it conducted its sixth nuclear test, which it claims was a hydrogen bomb, and the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution. The continuation of its reckless acts cannot be overlooked. The situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula is becoming extremely serious and we need to have a strong sense of concern.
Personally, I think that time is ripening for the Self-Defense Forces to seriously consider possessing medium-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. The most important of all for Japan to prepare for the North Korean crisis is to bolster its defense capabilities and increase its deterrence in cooperation with its ally, the U.S., and other friends.
In this sense, we need to continue joint drills between the U.S. Air Force’s B-1 strategic bombers and the Air Self-Defense Force’s fighter jets and carry out joint maritime operations with the U.S., Australia, and India.
The North Korean crisis is a problem deeply entwined with China. Some experts point out that Chinese President Xi Jinping wants the North to go nuclear so he can use the regime to increase China’s regional clout for the purpose of realizing his contemporary Silk Road economic initiative, the “One Belt, One Road” economic zone. It is said that in exchange for freezing Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development, China wants a reduction in the U.S. military presence in Japan and South Korea and the cancellation of the U.S. forces’ joint exercises with its allies’ militaries, but such a deal is unrealistic and unacceptable. To ensure the security of Japan, Pyongyang’s complete dismantlement of its nuclear and missile programs is necessary.
I was in Washington on Sept. 12-14, before the missile launch. In the American capital I conveyed Japan’s stance that the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe believes [the international community] should step up pressure against the North. I also told the U.S. that Japan praises the “All options are on the table” approach by the administration of President Donald Trump. I felt that the U.S. side has come to feel a greater sense of crisis toward Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development.