‘Japan can retaliate against North Korea’

May 18, 2015
Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani.

Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani.

By Jun Ji-hye

Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said Sunday that Japan would retaliate against a North Korean base if Pyongyang launched a missile attack on the United States.

According to the Mainichi Shimbun, Monday, Nakatani made the remarks during an appearance in a program on Fuji Television.

The minister added that Tokyo’s attack would be based on the premise that the U.S. was being attacked by the North and serious damage was expected.

Defense observers in South Korea said the comments about a possible attack on the North were very rare and are expected to provoke a strong response from the repressive state.

Nakatani’s remarks came after Washington and Tokyo revised their defense guidelines on April 28.

The revision of the 1997 U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation Pact removed geographic limits on the role of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, and expanded their role globally to help U.S. forces in military emergencies.

Collective self-defense is the right to engage in military activities overseas if one’s allies are under attack. The revision has increased concerns that Tokyo may return to militarism.

Seoul’s Ministry of National Defense did not make any official response to the minister’s remarks.

However, an official noted that a number of preconditions would be necessary before Japan attacks the North.

“South Korea, the U.S. and Japan are supposed to share information on Pyongyang’s possible missile launches under their trilateral arrangement for military intelligence,” he said.

“Japan needs to seek prior approval before launching an attack against Pyongyang as such an attack would have a great impact on the Korean Peninsula.”

He added that Tokyo is not the only country that is concerned about a North Korean missile attack on Washington.

Korea, a Japanese colony from 1910 to 1945, has delivered its message regarding Japan’s collective defensive right that Tokyo must seek prior approval from Seoul if it conducts military activities on the latter’s territory.

The government has claimed that even if such activities are carried out outside Korean territory, prior approval is still necessary if it affects its national interest.

The three countries signed a pact to share sensitive intelligence on the North’s nuclear and missile programs last December amid increasing threats to the region from the North.

It is the first such agreement that opened the door for Seoul and its former colonial ruler to share military secrets.

However, the two countries do not directly share their intelligence, and Washington mediates between them to calm public resistance to the move here that stems from the bitter memory of Japan’s colonial rule.

5 Comments

  1. Nathan C Langston

    May 20, 2015 at 7:28 AM

    The problem is China not North Korea. Beijing plays the innocent even while Pyongyang brandishes and bullies with its nuclear arsenal, its rockets, and now its missile submarine capacity. The North is China’s vassal and does nothing without at least the tacit approval of its patron. Beijing is the key to making Kim behave and pulling his nuclear teeth.

    The answer is for the US to lease Japan, and perhaps also South Korea, two or three of its Ohio missile submarines, complete with armament and training for their crews. The leases would end the moment North Korea surrenders its nuclear arsenal. Until then China would have nuclear missile subs, with merved warheads, fully controlled by Tokyo, patrolling the South China Sea.

    Beijing would have an incentive to bring Kim under control. Japan would have a reliable self defense punch independent of an ever less reliable America, and without a permanent commitment to nuclear weapons and the domestic political problems that entails. And Washington would have an answer to Beijing’s sly game of playing the innocent while Pyongyang does its bullying.

    • Franz Liebkind

      June 10, 2015 at 12:11 PM

      Good gosh, Langston. You still have no grasp of geopolitics. Do you really think Abe could survive electorally if he contracted to lease a nuclear missile sub? Do you think the US would give Japan or South Korea control over that kind of arsenal? Each of those subs can carry 200 or so warheads of several hundred kilotons yield apiece.

      I also see you’re still the model chickenhawk, pretending the toy soldiers on your bedroom floor are Other People’s Children.

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  3. leticia

    December 25, 2017 at 10:52 PM

    Good gosh, Langston. You still have no grasp of geopolitics. Do you really think Abe could survive electorally if he contracted to lease a nuclear missile sub? Do you think the US would give Japan or South Korea control over that kind of arsenal? Each of those subs can carry 200 or so warheads of several hundred kilotons yield apiece.

    I also see you’re still the model chickenhawk, pretending the toy soldiers on your bedroom floor are Other People’s Children. badoqq

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