Missile madnessOn Thursday, North Korea notified the International Maritime Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization of its plan to launch an experimental satellite, Kwangmyongsong-2. The intention is to demonstrate in an indirect way that North Korea possesses high-level missile technology good enough to send an intercontinental ballistic missile to the United States. The entire international society, including the United States, Japan, China, Russia and the United Nations as well as South Korea expressed concern and opposition, but North Korea doesn’t care at all about their response. Worries grow that weeks-long diplomatic efforts to dissuade North Korea from conducting the launch will eventually fail.
The North’s missile experiment will shake the balance of security over all of Northeast Asia. First of all, it will stir Japan’s anxiety over safety. In 1998 Japan seethed at North Korea’s launch of a rocket that flew over the Japanese islands.
Because of the launch, right-wing forces in Japan easily called for enhancement of military capacity and such capacity was, indeed, boosted. The same will happen this time too if the North goes ahead with its plan. That’s why some say right-wingers in Japan would rather welcome North Korea’s missile test-launch.
After North Korea’s 1998 missile launch, Japan actively participated in the U.S.-led missile defense system. So far Japan has focused on enhancing its defense capacity but that could change. Japan has already amended its pacifist constitution and now the normal state theory which means the country must have a strong military capacity to match its economic power as the world’s second-largest economy is widely accepted. The normal state theory, despite its name, means that Japan wants to be a military superpower with the capacity to attack. North Korea’s missile launch will provide decisive support to Japanese right-wing forces who want their country to become a military powerhouse.
Japan’s enhancement of its military capacity will inevitably stimulate China and Russia as well as us. North Korea’s missile will come back at it like a boomerang. An armament race will certainly put a burden on strong countries. But it will be a calamity to us and North Korea, because we have no chance of winning the armament race of strong countries. North Korea’s missile blocks an opportunity for Northeast Asian countries to prosper together in peace.
North Korea must stop toying with its missile because it will only harm itself.