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‘N. Korea is a new level of threat,’ says Japanese PM

‘N. Korea is a new level of threat,’ says Japanese PM

Posted March. 07, 2017 07:05,   

Updated March. 07, 2017 08:27

Japan is being infuriated by North Korea’s launch of ballistic missiles that landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) again. This was not the first time that North Korea fired missiles into sea near Japan. North Korea launched missiles into Japanese EEZ in August and September last year.

Immediately after the missile launch, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that the launch was a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions, saying, “Today’s launches of ballistic missiles clearly represent a new threat from North Korea.” During an Upper House Budget Committee session, which was held at 9 a.m., the prime minister briefed North Korea’s missile launches and said that Japan will continue to coordinate closely with the U.S., South Korea and other countries to strongly urge North Korea to exercise restraint.
The Upper House exceptionally stopped the meeting for 40 minutes so that the prime minister could convene the National Security Council (NSC) in order to provide a government-wide response to North Korea’s provocations. When Mr. Abe called for an NSC meeting after the Upper House Budget Committee session in the morning, main opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Tetsuro Fukuyama urged the meeting to open early and the committee chairman adjourned the session. Both sides of the aisle spoke with one voice on the security issue.
North Korea’s missile launch on Monday is also acting favorably with Mr. Abe as it helped to turn people’s attention to a scandal of Prime Minister Abe’s wife, Akie, surrounding an elementary school in Osaka. The affair was that Mrs. Abe was involved in a murky deal for the purchase of state-owned land by an elementary school in Osaka at bargain prices and Mrs. Abe was an honorary principal of the school. The affair was dealt in the parliament every day and has snowballed into the regime’s scandal. The Budget Committee originally planned to concentrate on this issue on Monday but the focus of the session was shifted into ballistic missiles of North Korea and the scandal of Mrs. Abe was handled lightly. The prime minister simply mentioned that he should have explained more to people.
It is predicted that the Abe administration would actively use this missile launches to strengthen the national defense as well. The Abe administration has increased its defense budget for five years in a row and allocated 5.1251 trillion yen (about 51.4580 trillion won) for 2017, the biggest of all time. He also clearly indicated recently that he would go against the principle of former governments, which is to keep its military spending at 1 percent of GDP. In the Liberal Democratic Party convention that was held on Sunday, Mr. Abe gained a foothold to extend the terms of the party’s chairman. Now, it is expected that he will use threats from North Korea as a tool to make Japan as a normal country that is capable of engaging in war through the Constitutional amendment.

Young-A Soh sya@donga.com