North Korean missile tests threaten Japan

Courtesy of the UNITED STATES NAVY
The United States Navy patrols off the coast of Japan. Japan and the United States have maintained military cooperation for years, a relationship so close that a threat to one is a threat to the other.

North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile which flew 310 miles before crashing into the East Sea off the coast of Japan.

The missile, Pukuksong-2, was launched under the command of the Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un at the North Pyongan province on Sunday, Feb. 12.

The missile is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and of thwarting interceptions from an anti-ballistic missiles, which prevent the flight of a ballistic missiles.

The missile was intended as a message to the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, to reconsider his friendship with the new U.S. president Donald Trump and as a show of power to the rest of the world of North Korea’s nuclear power and military expertise, according to CNN.

The Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim Jong-un “expressed great satisfaction over the possession of another powerful nuclear attack means which adds to the tremendous might of the country.”

Abe described the launching of the missile as “absolutely intolerable” and called for North Korea to comply with the U.N. Security Council resolutions at a news conference during his recent visit to the U.S. president.

President Trump reaffirmed the United States position on its relationship with Japan by stating, “I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the United States stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent.”

North Korea and Japan don’t have an active diplomatic relationship since the 1970’s and have not negotiated the incident. North Korea admitted to a series of kidnappings of Japanese citizens. Since the incidents, the two countries have not communicated through diplomats.

Joe Jo is a senior psychology major from Handong University in Pohang, South Korea who is studying at John Brown University for the semester. Jo says North Korea is targeting both Japan and the United States by firing the missile. To him, it is not surprising.

“They believe that if they can launch the missile further, they can threaten not only Japan but also the USA. They also want to show off that they can make the missile by themselves,” Jo said.

Jo is neither frightened nor nervous by the missile test as it is a regular occurrence and as no threat has been carried out successfully against his country.

Daniel Bennett, assistant professor for political science at JBU, thinks that the missile launch was a propaganda tool which painted North Korea’s military as powerful and in control.

Analyzing North Korean military strategy proves difficult as the country doesn’t seem to have any clear goal, to Bennett.

Bennett describes North Korea’s strategy as “Don’t mess with us.”

“I think there are a lot of problems when trying to analyze North Korean strategy and military behavior. There are really not a lot of constraints that would apply to a typical country [or] a typical regime because it is a total authoritarian dictatorship and based on this cultish personality with the Jong family.” Bennett said.

Bennett thinks that if North Korea dropped the military regime, rejoined the international community and restored relationships with its neighbors, Japan and South Korea, it would be in the best interests for the North Korean people.