|North Korea Threatens War Against Japan Over Missile
By Jonathan Tirone
North Korea’s government vowed to wage war against Japan if Japanese defense forces try to shoot down a
missile that the communist nation says will carry a communications satellite.
“Should Japan dare recklessly to intercept the DPRK’s satellite, its army will consider this as the start of
Japan’s war of reinvasion more than six decades after the Second World War,” the official Korean Central
News Agency said today in an e-mailed statement. North Korea is also known as the Democratic People’s
Republic of Korea.
Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada on March 27 ordered his forces to shoot down any North
Korean object entering his country’s airspace and deployed guided-missile units around Tokyo. Japan, along
with the U.S., China, South Korea and Russia, want to forestall North Korea’s plans to launch what the
government in Pyongyang calls a “peaceful” satellite and refocus on efforts to end its nuclear program.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today North Korea’s rhetoric toward Japan “regarding the
Japanese right to defend itself” is an “unfortunate and continuing example of provocation.”
Speaking at a news conference in The Hague, Clinton reiterated that North Korea would face consequences at
the United Nations for a missile launch.
North Korea’s Accusation
North Korea accuses Japan of using the launch, scheduled to take place between April 4 and 8, as a pretext to
build its own nuclear arsenal.
The North Korean news agency, in its statement, said, “The primary aim sought by Japan through this is to
bring the six- party talks to collapse and delay the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and thus justify its
ambition for nuclear weaponization.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on March 29 called the launch “a mask” for development of an
intercontinental ballistic missile by North Korea.
Benjamin Chang, a spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House, said North Korea’s
“belligerent rhetoric towards its neighbors is unhelpful and counterproductive.”
The six-party joint statement of September 2005 called for North Korea to improve its relations with Japan and
to promote peace and stability in Northeast Asia, Chang said in an e-mailed statement.
“We urge North Korea to uphold its commitments and to refrain from provocative actions that increase
tensions in the region,” he said.
No Atomic Weapons
Japan doesn’t have atomic weapons and is the only country to have nuclear armaments used against it, during
World War II. North Korea tested an atomic weapon in 2006 in the Korean peninsula’s first nuclear detonation.
In Washington, one of Congress’s leaders on defense issues today said one motive for North Korea to launch a
missile would be to show “that they are powerful, that they are able to respond if attacked.”
“I think they view this as connected some way to their own security” Senate Armed Services Committee
Chairman Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, told reporters. “They probably see this partly as deterrence.”
The invasion of Iraq showed the U.S. “was able and willing to attack a country” and that “goes through their
minds,” Levin said. In addition, “probably there’s a commercial element to it -- meaning they can sell things”
like missile technology, if the test is a success, he said.
Cash-strapped North Korea is the world’s top supplier of ballistic missile technology to potential U.S.
adversaries such Iran and Syria, Army General Walter Sharp, the head of U.S. forces in Korea, told Levin’s
panel March 19.
North Korea “views its ballistic missile programs as a source of prestige, a strategic deterrent, a means of
exerting regional influence and a source of hard currency,” Sharp said.