The war of words between North Korea and the rest of the world, but most specially the United States, Japan, and South Korea, has degenerated into some kind of free-for-all bereft of all civility in international relations.
We would like to believe the observation, made by one international news service, that North Korea has a long history of issuing dramatic threats against the US and its allies but not carrying them out. But its latest action of sending a missile into Japanese air space over Hokkaido and into the Pacific is cause for great concern.
After the United Nations Security Council issued its eighth set of economic sanctions against North Korea last week following its test explosion of a hydrogen bomb, a spokesman for the North Korea’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee said: “Now is the time to annihilate the US imperialist aggressors. Let’s reduce the US mainland into ashes and darkness.”
It had more specific threats for Japan. Its missile last Friday crossed Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. North Korea then warned: “The four islands of the archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche. Japan is no longer needed to exist near us.” Juche is the North’s national policy of self-reliance.
The US Pacific Command said the North Korean missile that passed over Japan travelled 3,700 kilometers and landed in the Pacific Ocean. But it posed no threat to North America, the Pacific Command said.
There is no such assurance for Japan. North Korean missiles can easily reach any part of Japan. The one last Friday jolted millions of Japanese awake in the early hours of dawn as sirens blared. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared that Japan will “never tolerate such dangerous provocation that threatens world peace.”
All these years the US and South Korea have tolerated threats from North Korea. Japan is now not only threatened but its airspace has been violated. This is the Japan whose cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki were devastated by the world’s first atomic bombs in World War II. We can understand if it is now ultra-sensitive to a nuclear threat at this time and may take action on its own. “If North Korea continues to walk down this path, it has no bright future,” Prime Minister Abe said.
In threatening to sink Japan into the sea and actually blasting a missile into Japanese air space, North Korea may have raised the level of danger in our region and given us in the Philippines new cause for worry and fear.