All national papers reported on Sunday that North Korea fired two projectiles into the Sea of Japan early Saturday morning, saying that this was the seventh launch of its kind in almost a month and the first one after the U.S.-ROK military exercise ended on Aug. 20. As the provocation came just a day after South Korea officially notified Japan of its decision to terminate the bilateral GSOMIA, the articles pointed out that Japan’s Defense Ministry announced the detection of the launch ahead of South Korea perhaps in order to demonstrate at home and abroad that the SDF is capable of collecting intelligence on DPRK projectiles in a timely manner in close coordination with the U.S. military without any input from South Korea.
Defense Minister Iwaya reportedly explained to the press that the ministry swiftly concluded that the projectiles were short-range ballistic missiles and that the launch was perhaps intended to disrupt trilateral cooperation between the U.S., Japan, and South Korea by capitalizing on the deepening schism between Tokyo and Seoul. The GOJ reportedly lodged a protest through a diplomatic channel saying that the launch constituted a violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
The dailies said President Trump appeared to downplay the significance of North Korea’s continued provocations by telling journalists on Friday: “Kim Jong Un likes testing missiles, but we never restricted short-range missiles.” Asahi claimed that the U.S. leader seems to be somewhat indifferent to North Korea’s missile tests probably because he is apparently preoccupied with the trade friction with China, speculating that his most pressing policy agenda right now is to seal a trade deal with Beijing quickly so as to ensure economic growth and assuage the stock market ahead of the presidential election next year.
Asahi separately reported that the reputation of the UN Security Council is in peril as a result of North Korea’s ceaseless provocations because although its resolutions prohibit the DPRK from carrying out ballistic missile tests of any range, no member state has asked for an emergency council meeting to discuss the repeated violations. The paper conjectured that European council members and Japan have “kept silent” probably out of deference to the Trump administration’s conciliatory line toward the Kim regime.