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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:54 03/09/2007
News Review #356: July 13, 2006

Korea Crisis Splits Allies

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

Korea Crisis Splits Allies
Herald Sun


Introduced above is a very brief article with less than 100 words, yet pinpoints the problem of today's global political scene.

Last week, when North Korea launched seven missiles in a sequence, it seemed the whole world was first surprised that the rogue nation if fact dared doing it, then condemned it for such a reckless action. During the while since, however, the delicate political game of maneuvering and positioning among nations has begun, causing difference of nuances among major countries in coping with North Korea's missile launch.

One nation that has been standing firm and consistent since the launch is Japan. The Japanese government immediately after the launch forbad docking of Mangyongbong, a North Korean cargo and ferry ship, at a Japanese port for six months. It also brought the issue to the UN Security Council for it to adopt a resolution to sanction North Korea. Other countries, however, has been playing canny games, in order to pursue interests of their own, or so they believe.

The U.S. has kept its side with Japan in terms of general policy. But it did allow Beijing to talk to Pyongyang before pushing ahead with the resolution in the Security Council. The U.S. may have chosen the proper path in theory, but as a result it favored Pyongyang by providing time for the countries to think things over, to begin to wonder, among other things, whether and to what extent the missiles are real threats to themselves.

The missiles missed Russia's coast only by a hundred kilometers or so, and without any warning, risked the safety of its fishermen operating in the area where missiles came down. But apparently, to pursue its own agenda - some say it to become the power to compete with the U.S. again - Moscow, while in the official language denounced North Korea, held a position relatively sympathetic to Pyongyang, by opposing sanctions by the U.N.

The key player has clearly been China. Beijing condemned North Korea for the launch itself, but it has maintained the sanctions would be inappropriate, as it would further alienate North Korea from the rest of the world - more specifically from the already stalled six-party talks. Although Beijing failed to talk North Korea to stop further missile launches, keenly sensing some countries are becoming wary of imposing sanctions by the U.N., began to change its stance - obviously in part to conceal their failure in discussions with Pyongyang, and being revealed of the fact that it has significantly less influence on Pyongyang than the rest of the world was led to believe. China Daily reports that "China Wednesday criticized Japan for its remarks that it is considering a pre-emptive strike against missile bases in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), saying such a threat is 'extremely irresponsible and incomprehensible.'"

The U.K. and France, the remaining two permanent members of the Security Council having veto powers, were initially siding with Japan and the U.S. But it must have dawned on them somewhere along the line that the missiles of North Korea are not direct threat to them, and they are now repositioning to say that the international accord is more important then pushing the proposed resolution to sanction North Korea through the U.N. - which is in essence favoring not to sanction North Korea. Obviously, it is easier for everyone to agree that the music by Beethoven is moving, but difference of opinions and fierce discussions must be faced in deciding which stock to invest in the aim to obtain tangible results.

As the short article introduced above casually but bluntly points out, "The bickering and divisions are likely to please the North, which frequently tries to drive a wedge between the US and its allies." It seems so far that North Korea was seeing things through better than any other member of the international community, where short-term lead over the rivals is more often than not important than peace and stability of the world.

As for the poor Japanese, they may finally become disillusioned, not so much for the whole world not siding with them, but with the U.N., which Japan has been ardently supporting by bearing 19.5% of the total contribution, next only to 22% by the U.S., and significantly more than 15.3% - the figure being the combined total of the four permanent Security Council members with veto powers - namely, U.K., France, Russia, and China.

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