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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:54 03/09/2007
News Review #354: July 6, 2006

North Korea's Missile Test Leaves Japan in a Quandary

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

North Korea's Missile Test Leaves Japan in a Quandary
(Jim Frederick) Time,8816,1210297,00.html


It seems the level of frustration has reached unbearable levels for the underdeveloped society and its leader Kim Jong-il, which led to the infantile act of making noises - as if a child crying in the middle of the street - to attract the attention and asking for comforting words and actions from other countries - the grown-ups.

But the gadget to make that noise was no toy. It was a bunch of missiles, and unlike the fireworks ignited just about the same time on East River in New York to commemorate the day of Independence there, the missiles fired were vehicles for real weapons, including nuclear, chemical, and biological over hundreds and even thousands of kilometers.

Since it was revealed two weeks ago that North Korea was making preparations to launch its new ballistic missile capable of sending bombs across the Pacific to reach the mainland U.S., the international society has issued numerous warnings that the launch would constitute a serious threat to the peace and stability not only to the region but also to the whole world.

By launching six missiles successively yesterday morning, including a Taepodong 2 which is said to have the capability of flying across the Pacific Ocean, North Korea showed its determination similar to that of an alienated child in making noises to attract attention. And for a while, it seemed to succeed. Just as it had hoped, the action invited condemning remarks from all over the world. But apparently to the disappointment for Pyongyang, no one responded with the magnitude it had hoped for. President Bush effectively ignored the event, leaving to his subordinates to denounce Pyongyang, and the comments coming out of other countries were mostly subdued, condemning North Korea as if it were a matter-of-course procedure.

Perhaps to indicate its heightened frustration because no one was panicking or awe-stricken by its actions, North Korea, after waiting twelve hours for someone to come to pamper it without avail, launched the seventh missile, to which there was no significant response from the international community. The world seems to have finally realized the brinkmanship diplomacy Pyongyang has been conducting all these years, and began to cast wary eyes on its behaviors.

In the meantime, the responses of the Japanese people were mostly that of annoyance and disgust. Some indeed expressed fear but not of the strength of Pyongyang but to the unpredictability of its behaviors - the type of unpredictability often observed in a spoiled child. It is summarized in the comment by Prime Minister Koizumi, "Whatever their motivation, there is nothing positive to be gained out of this, and North Korea should think hard about this once more."

The Japanese government did initiate a retaliatory process by prohibiting docking of Mangyongbong, a North Korean cargo and ferry ship, at a Japanese port for six months. (There are also hundreds of other North Korean ships of various types calling at Japanese ports every year - they were not banned this time but their crews were to be prohibited from landing on Japanese soil.) This measure is considered to have only a limited effect on North Korea, but it was a warm response to the child crying for attention, and, after all, it was a proper protocol to respond to a message.

Yes, as the title of the article introduced indicates, Japan is in a quandary just like other responsible countries in the world, wondering how the spoiled brat can be taught to behave well. Countries geographically distanced from the rogue regime could simply stay away in order to avoid accidental damages. However, for Japan located close to the delinquent child, the threat is real, and measures must be sought to protect its people first, however poor the child may be.

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