Madness in Pyongyang

PYONGYANG has shocked the world by test-firing a series of missiles, including a long-range missile Taepodong-2 that could strike as far as Alaska, in complete defiance of international warnings. In a quick reaction, US, Japan, Russia, South Korea and many others have deplored the action. Even as this goes to the Press, the UN Security Council is holding an emergency session to discuss the issue.

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Published: Thu 6 Jul 2006, 10:09 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 5:09 PM

Japan, the immediate neighbour of North Korea, has vowed to deal with the threat posed by North Korea. In fact, Tokyo has already taken several retalitatory measures that include banning the entry of North Korean ships and imposition of sanctions.

While Japan and South Korea — the two countries most affected by North’s act — are on high alert, China has urged all sides to remain calm. But Pyongyang remains defiant insisting that such launches are a matter of national sovereignty. The nation probably sees this action as a way to get attention and break the diplomatic logjam over stalled talks on its nuclear capabilities. But the firing — Pyongyang’s first since a self-imposed moratorium in 1999 — would seriously damage the prospects for talks.

Of all the countries in the region, Japan faces a huge challenge in North Korea. It has to demonstrate to the world that it would indeed honour its resolve to confront the North Korean threat. Japan has not maintained an army since the end of World War II, after the Hiroshima-Nagasaki disaster. Its new constitution is also pacifist, as Tokyo made a new beginning in 1945 with the confidence that if it does not attack anybody, nobody would harm it. However, when you are face with a manic dictator like the 'Dear Leader' Kim, you have got to take measures to defend yourself. Japan would have to arm itself to defend itself and its people. It should use its economic clout and international standing to pressure the North to abandon its militaristic ambitions.

North Korea has proved to be a constant obstacle to peace in East Asia. All its neighbours feel threatened by its military ambitions. The international community has tried in vain to make Pyongyang see reason. The US has refused to submit to its blackmail for talks to end the crisis, but as of now, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Still, Japan — along with US and China — must continue to apply pressure on the regime and make it understand the implications of its foolish acts. At no stage must the impression be given that the North can get away with murder. Otherwise, it would make Pyongyang bolder and encourage it to resort to more such tactics. North Korea indeed poses a clear and present danger to world peace and stability. The sooner its nuclear mess is cleared, the better for the rest of the world.

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