The Trump administration is using both military and economic means to exert strong pressure on North Korea as it races to strengthen its nuclear and missile capabilities. The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson, was suddenly deployed to the waters off the Korean Peninsula. The United States has additionally informed the Japanese government that it is considering strengthening sanctions against Chinese companies implicated in the development of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. This is also a response to the speculation that North Korea will undertake new provocative action to coincide with the 105th anniversary of President Kim Il Sung’s birthday on April 15.
Although the situation is growing increasingly tense, one wonders if Japan, as a relevant party, is sufficiently concerned. A dangerous dictatorship is attempting to gain the means to carry out an attack by weapons of mass destruction. Needless to say, the threat is extremely serious. It is important that a range of measures are implemented in order to put a stop to North Korea’s recklessness. It is only proper, as a member of an alliance, that Japan should support and work with the United States.
The United States and South Korea continue to undertake large-scale, joint military exercises within South Korea. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, has confirmed that the recent U.S. air strikes against Syria can also be interpreted as a warning to North Korea. This, and the deployment of the carrier group will also put pressure on China, the lifeblood of the North Korean economy.
The Trump administration has rightly grasped the urgency that while the Obama administration let the situation deteriorate as it sat on its hands. There is a sense of danger, that it will be impossible to prevent North Korea from exploding without military intervention.
The situation is far more imminent than the Japanese people realize. The North Korean Foreign Ministry is reacting aggressively, criticizing the deployment of the aircraft carrier as “invasion maneuvers”, and saying that they would be “delighted to respond” to any military action by the US military, and so forth. If North Korea were to launch ballistic missiles, they would reach Japanese territory in less than ten minutes. It would not even be far-fetched for North Korean spies to have already infiltrated Japan.
How do we evacuate Japanese nationals currently on the Korean Peninsula? There are numerous preparations that should be carried out. It is also necessary to consider the possibility of the United States undertaking a defensive preemptive strike. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has told senior executives of the Liberal Democratic Party that he “is willing, regardless of the situation, to protect the lives and peaceful existence of the Japanese people, at all costs.”
But the prime minister’s resolve alone is not enough. The government and the Diet shoulder the responsibility of protecting the Japanese people. Sharing a sense of crisis is essential.
(Click here to read the original in Japanese)