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    More about missiles

    So is everyone else on the edge of his seat like us in Japan…you know, waiting to see whether the chair of the UN Security Council will set the DPRK on its ear by deeming its missile tests “not all that neighborly” or “very naughty”? In between errands, I’ve been watching NHK’s reporting. Today we were very pointedly informed the cool and not-so-cool people are (as in this Yomiuri article):

    Japan, Britain, France and the United States on Friday jointly submitted to an informal U.N. Security Council meeting a resolution condemning North Korea’s missile launches.

    Clauses referring to sanctions in an original draft crafted by Japan had been modified.

    “All options are on the table,” he said, suggesting China has not ruled out the possibility of vetoing the resolution.

    According to sources, Russia, which has called for the issuance of a U.N. Security Council presidential statement, did not speak out during the meeting. Some U.N. diplomats have interpreted this silence as an indication it will abstain from voting.

    China and Russia can veto the resolution, abstain from voting, or demand that it be modified.

    I didn’t catch all the numbers, but NHK also reported the results of its latest poll. Unfortunately, the interesting parts don’t seem to be posted: IIRC, 69% of respondents thought Japan should pursue economic sanctions against the DPRK. (Remember that the Japanese are thinking not only about missile testing but also about the still-unresolved issue of the Japanese abductees.) A plurality, if not a majority, believed that Japan’s best avenue for pushing its North Korea policy was the UNSC; somewhat fewer thought it was the G7.

    The Koizumi administration appears to have other ideas:

    Defense Agency chief Fukushiro Nukaga said the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) should have the capability to attack foreign countries’ missile bases following North Korea’s test-launch last week of seven missiles.

    “As an independent state, Japan should have the minimum capability (to attack foreign countries’ missile bases) within the framework of the Constitution to protect its people,” Nukaga told reporters on Sunday.

    “We shouldn’t jump to conclusions even though such a situation (the test firing of missiles) occurred. I’d like the ruling coalition partners to thoroughly discuss the issue,” Nukaga said.

    He made the remarks in response to North Korea’s test-firing of seven missiles, including Taepodong 2 long-range ballistic missiles, last week.

    His view was shared by Foreign Minister Taro Aso. “It’s absolutely right (to attack missile bases within the framework of Japan’s right to self-defense) to protect the safety of the people,” he told an NHK program on Sunday.

    The original Japanese story has Nukaga continuing: “As things are now, we have the Japan-US alliance, and we’ve been sharing [defense] roles. Strikes against enemy territory would be carried out by the US.”

    Instapundit’s newest podcast, featured Austin Bay and Jim Dunnigan and was mostly about the North Korea situation. It provides a good primer on the diplomatic power plays involved. If you live in East Asia, it’s also a good reminder that a lot about your everyday reality is news to people elsewhere (for example, the commonalities between Great Britain and Japan that are based on their both being island countries).

    There was one moment that made me say, “WHAT?!” Jim Dunnigan said something on the order of “I’ve asked South Koreans I know whether being prickly and taking offense easily is a Korean characteristic, and they said, ‘Not really,'” which he appeared to take at face value.

    Please. The Koreans are in fact notoriously touchy about their position in East Asia…and do you wonder? Like Poland (just to spread the comparisons to Europe around), Korea has spent much of its history being overrun by its larger, hungrier neighbors. And look what’s happened in the last half-century: Japan went from the humiliated pariah of the industrialized world to an economic titan that, for a decade or so, had academics and managers from the West looking to it reverently for secrets of success. China and Japan have had a massive tastemaking influence on global popular culture. Korea’s coolness factor in Asia has increased noticeably over the last several years, and the ROK’s economic growth since democratization has won much admiration from business analysts; still, nternational consciousness about Korea remains relatively low. I doubt many people sit around in Seoul seething about this in any focused way, but the feeling that Korea is misunderstood and put-upon is hard to miss.

    Of course, the North has the additional problem of a non-functioning economy. It’s hemorrhaging refugees. Have I mentioned the word 脱北 (dappoku: “escape to the north”) lately? Oh, yeah–I haven’t mentioned anything lately because I haven’t posted. Well, it’s a compound that, whatever its origins and at least in Japan, is used exclusively to refer to defecting from the DPRK over its border with the PRC. That is, the phenomenon has its own word. Jim Dunnigan, I think, mentioned that word about what a hellhole North Korea is has arrived in the South. It’s arrived in Japan, also, largely through Japanese nationals who’ve returned from the DPRK. All of which is to say, the DPRK knows that, aside from the occasional puff piece by gullible lefty sympathizers from the West, how bad things have gotten there is no longer a secret.

    One last stray thing: The NHK report I watched last night struck me as odd for some reason I couldn’t put my finger on. Then, while a later segment about the opening of a border checkpoint between India and the PRC–you can bet the Japanese are watching how trade relations are going to develop between those two!–it hit me. The experts interviewed had all talked about how Japan’s options for responding to the missile tests would be limited by whether the US was willing to back it up. What was strange was that they seemed to be regarding the tests as a regional problem, as if the US had no reason to get involved except to do right by its primary East Asian ally. Of course, that’s part of it. We’ve known since 1998 that the DPRK can get missiles to Japan. (That was a fun day to watch NHK, too, IIRC.) But North Korea not only likes to get antsy about perceived US threats to its sovereignty and develop ICBMs but also likes to drag big-guns backers such as the PRC and Russia into things. The Koizumi administration appears to understand the import of that; it was strange that the commentators didn’t.

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