[EDITORIALS]Verbal missilesThe North Korean missile launches are turning into an even more serious matter. The South Korean government makes it clear that it will go in the opposite direction from that of Washington and Tokyo, resisting the two nation’s hawkish measures against North Korea.
A good example is that Seoul opposed the United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang that Washington and Tokyo are working for. And a conflict between Seoul and Tokyo is intensifying over Japan’s musing about a pre-emptive attack on the North. An alliance of South Korea, the United States and Japan ― which is crucial to resolve the missile crisis ― is on the verge of collapse. Discord between Seoul and the two other nations is being revealed, instead of signs of effective joint measures in response.
Both South Korea and Japan should try to understand the other’s position, and the authorities in both capitals should be careful with their words. South Korean government officials should not make such rude remarks as, “There is no need to make a fuss in the early morning as Japan did.” Japanese officials also should refrain from talking about a pre-emptive attack on the North. The missile crisis is a grave matter that threatens regional security, not only in South Korea and Japan but also in the rest of Northeast Asia. It would be hard to find a solution even if the two countries cooperated. But if the two countries forget about the core of the problem ― North Korea’s missile launches ― and spend their time fighting, it does not help either country. The United States should not just look on at the conflicts between Seoul and Tokyo but try to mediate between the two countries if needed. North Korea’s missile and nuclear problems cannot be resolved unless Seoul, Tokyo and Washington work together. Washington should point out to Tokyo that its attempts to intensify its military power will not be acceptable to its neighbors.
Inter-Korean ministerial talks begin today. People wonder with what attitude North Korea will attend the meeting. The South Korean government decided to hold this meeting despite opposition inside the administration. It said it would listen to what North Korea said and wants to deliver a warning that Pyongyang will have to pay the price if it makes the situation worse. But it is natural to wonder if Seoul will really do so, judging from its past actions. If the South Korean government only listens to North Korea’s arguments and does not do anything, it will have to take a share of the blame for the problem.