18.12.2017 Author: Vladimir Terehov

DPRK and the Issue of Japan’s Security


Over the past few years, North Korea is presented by the world media’s as a source of almost mystical evil, as well as a threat to a “world society”. The paranoia is skilfully inflated by the media and essentially exposes not the DPRK’s formal violation of various international norms, but its “otherness” or difference from a “normal country”.

“Missiles and nuclear warheads should not be in the hands of crazy people who feed their citizen to dogs and shoot them with flamethrowers and machine guns. The North Koreans are 10 centimeters lower than Southerners, but their leader is suspiciously chubby and has a stupid haircut”. All this and other propaganda nonsense has been exaggerated by the world media for years.

A long-term information attack on the DPRK has fairly transparent objectives, namely to justify the US military presence at the forefront of the confrontation with its main geopolitical opponent, that is to say, with China.

However, it is politically incorrect to “openly” assert such an objective in connection with the country, a member of the UN Security Council, with which diplomatic, trade and other ties are maintained, whilst statements are made about the desire for further development of bilateral relations during meetings with its leaders.

It’s another thing to talk about your opponent’s conveniently frozen out neighbour. There is nothing to explain here. Why, in South Korea (a country that is 10 thousand km from the USA), are 30 thousand soldiers stationed whilst almost continuous military exercises are conducted? “Just look at this deficient northern violator of UN Security Council resolutions and “human rights”, starving their own population,” is roughly what Washington’s response to this question looks like.

If there was no next “Kim” with their nuclear missile program, they would both have to be thought up. And nothing threatens him or the country he leads while the military and political bad behaviour of the DPRK leadership remains within certain limits. The clear understanding and adherence by Pyongyang to this framework (as well as the rules of the US-Chinese game in which the DPRK is an unwitting and far from principle participant) was demonstrated by the latest missile launch.

It should be noted that as a result of the the current American power structure with its signs of psychological impairment, we can expect a variety of surprises, including the military defeat of the DPRK, itself counterproductive for Washington.

But the US is not the only country that benefits from using nuclear missile actions of the “violator of everything”. The contentious severity of Japanese documents in the field of defence and security has also focused on the DPRKfor a long time (until the middle of last decade).

Tokyo’s real opponent regarding security (the PRC) was mentioned for the first time in 2005 (in cautious terms) in the plans accepted at the time for developing the military with deadlines of 5 and 10 years. Even before the expiration of these “test” deadlines, these documents were subject to subsequent adjustments, mainly because of the growing perception of the PRC as the main source of threats to national security.

The last such adjustment was made in 2013. At the same time, for the first time in Japan’s post-war history, the “National Security Strategy” was adopted. One of the key tenets of the “NSS 2013″ asserts that Japan is among the “major global players in the world community, contributing to the maintenance of peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world as a whole.”

However, in all the documents discussed, the “scarecrow” of North Korea has not disappeared. For example, in chapter III of the same “NSS 2013″ (“The situation surrounding Japan and challenges to national security”) it said,regarding the DPRK, “the source of increasing security threats in the region, including to Japan, is the development of ballistic missiles, including those that can reach US territory, as well as the continuation of attempts to miniaturize nuclear munitions”.

So it is initially unclear why the term “unforeseen circumstances” was used in the Japanese press report of December 7 on the subject of government plans to revise “NSS 2013″. Since the situation on the Korean peninsula was first mentioned, everything was very “foreseen” 4 years ago. The DPRK has not recently demonstrated anything essentially new in comparison with what was apparent then.

But what really was not reflected in the “NSS 2013” is (we quote), “the need to promote (Japanese) cooperation with the United States, Australia and India in order to ensure freedom and openness of the Indo-Pacific region. Probably, the realization of this by current Prime Minister S. Abe is a reaction to growing Chinese activity at sea”.

This part of the message needs some review. First, as we discussed earlier the concept of the formation of the Allied “Four” in the Indo-Pacific region was born back in 2007. However, it immediately lost its relevance and was forgotten for almost 10 years. Therefore, it could not be the focus of the 2013 document.

Secondly, the (for the time being hypothetical) implementation of the “Four” project can decisively determine the development of the political situation in the Indo-Pacific region. This project should of course be reflected in the conceptual paper that describes the various aspects of ensuring the security of one of the main players in the region and member of the “Four”.

It is reported that the new document will be prepared by the National Security Council, as well as by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence. It can be submitted for consideration by the country’s leadership in the second half of next year.

However, Japan’s real defence policy has already experienced some remarkable trends. According to a statement of the Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodara on December 8, his department intends to allow for the development of a group of cruise air-based missiles in the draft budget for next year’s funding. Naturally, for the purposes of defence, not attack.

Once again, we emphasize that it is unlikely that the “North Korean threat” is one of the main reasons for the expected adjustment to the Japanese “National Security Strategy 2013″. Although using this “scarecrow”, as they say, can’t hurt.

Unfortunately, the emerging innovations in Japan’s defence policy may adversely affect the development of positive trends in its relations with the China, in particular such as those seen during the recent meeting in Da Nang of the leaders of both countries.

Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.

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