North Korea’s growing belligerence is leading observers of South-Asian geopolitics to reconsider long-held conceptions. Japan, a largely pacifist nation since the end of World War II, is on the brink of reinventing itself militarily in response to the existential national security threat posed by the King Jong-un regime.
As the Associated Press reports, Japanese lawmakers are now debating the development of pre emptive strike capability via cruise missiles in order to stop possible missile strikes from a hostile North Korea.
Japan currently has a two-step missile defense system. It includes destroyers in the Sea of Japan armed with interceptors intended to shoot down projectiles mid-flight. As a back-up, Japan boasts several land-based surface-to-air PAAC-3s.
However, North Korea’s recent show of force has raised serious concerns among Japanese officials as to the adequacy of their nation’s current defensive measures. As the New York Times reported, Pyongyang fired missiles over Japan last Tuesday.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the press, “North Korea’s reckless action of launching a missile that passed over Japan is an unprecedented, serious and grave threat.” In a rare emergency procedure, Japan’s public television stations were interrupted with a warning screen announcing the missile launch.
Additionally, bullet trains were halted and citizens were warned to take safety precautions. Subsequent developments in North Korea have only heightened the state of alert in Japan.
As reported by NBC News, Pyongyang released footage on Sunday of their most recent test — a powerful new nuclear device — which the Kim regime claims to be a hydrogen bomb. North Korea also claims that their new weapon can be fitted onto an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
And as CBS News notes, the South Korean Defense Ministry has evidence suggesting North Korea is planning another ICBM launch similar to the one they fired over Japan last week. These revelations are prompting the Japanese ruling party to discuss the future of their country’s defense.
Leading voices want to purchase cruise missiles in order to organize a preemptive strike capability. Such a system would deploy missiles from destroyers or fighter jets that could hit North Korean ICBMs just after blast off, or destroy them as they’re still waiting to be fired from their launch pads. Such capabilities would be a major asset to a nation that has found itself in the crossfire of ongoing tensions between the US and North Korea.
The future of the standoff remains ambiguous. As Christian News Alerts reported, US Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis echoed past remarks of President Trump on Sunday when he promised a “massive military response” if North Korea threatens the US, Guam, or any American allies.
Japan sits squarely in the path of any North Korean missile launch toward the United States and her territories. Is it right for the Japanese government to refine its military capabilities in response to Kim Jong-un’s aggression?
Trump personally reacted to the missile launch over Japan by writing on Twitter that, “Talking is not the answer!” with North Korea. The President has tended to match Kim’s aggressive threats with strong rhetoric of his own.
For the moment, Japan remains largely dependent on American protection. But with political factions in the US that would be critical of any military move made by Trump, it may prove wise for Japan to take greater defense measures into its own hands.