The world attention to DPRK missile tests has undergone a dramatic diversion recently. The Japanese reaction was so strong and its gesture so rigid, that the whole international community was "at a loss".
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States have been sharply divided and are antagonistic to each other over the issue of financial sanctions against the DPRK. The DPRK missile test, in addition to military exercise, was meant to prompt the U.S. to agree to bilateral contacts. But Japan obstinately passed itself as the main target of the missile test.
Japan obviously has ulterior motives for its willingness to serve as the "target". First, to gain an upper hand in its relations with the DPRK; second, to use the event as an excuse to accelerate its building of an external-oriented military setup; third, to carry favor with the United States on the question of containing the DPRK; fourth, to seize the opportunity for a favorable turn in its pursuit of a permanent seat in the United Nations (UN) Security Council.
Japanese Defense Agency chief Fukushiro Nukaga said on July 9 that it is natural for Japan to have the capacity for a "preemptive strike". His remark was echoed by Foreign Minister Taro Aso on the same day. The following day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said it is necessary for Japan to consider having the "capacity for attacking enemy bases".
As people still remember how Shinzo Abe became notorious for his hardliner stance towards the DPRK as early as in 2002, who was then followed by a handful of hawkish politicians. But recently they had to pull in their horns when Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's hard line diplomacy was driven into an impasse. The missile test, however, posed an opportunity for them to restart the race.
The grace-gaining by hawkish politicians is an outcome of prevailing neo-conservatism and neo-nationalism in Japanese society. To "demonize" the DPRK has become a means to fan up xenophobia. Any prod at the country might be "diplomatically wrong", but "politically safe and favorable in public opinion". Media say this performance of "super hardliners" was all directed by Abe. Among his cast is Kenzo Oshima, Japanese Ambassador to the United Nations, who put on an over-bearing gesture and really shocked diplomats of other countries.
The Japanese "preemptive strike" theory naturally met with opposition at home. Ichiro Ozawa, chief of the Democratic Party of Japan, said Tuesday that without being attacked (from the other side), we cannot launch attacks (on its bases). And leader of the Social Democratic Party Fukushima Mizuho said: there emerged the theory of "attacking enemy's bases" within the government at the present stage. I'm deeply concerned as it will heighten the tension in Northeast Asia.
The Japanese abnormal behaviors have also drawn negative comments from the international community. China has voiced its opposition to the Japanese "sanction draft" on the DPRK submitted to the UN Security Council, saying that it will do no good to maintaining peace and stability in Northeast Asia, to keeping the unity of the UN Security Council or to safeguarding the six-party talks. Russia is also in opposition to any act that would worsen the situation. Even the United States has stressed repeatedly on solving the crisis through diplomatic channels. The New York Times holds that Abe's remarks are meant to stir up public anger, and then to translate such public will into forces for revising the pacifist constitution.
The Republic of Korea worries more about Japan than the missile tests by DPRK. President Roh Moo-hyun said Tuesday: "The remarks by Japan's political leaders have given rise to new circumstances, and this could possibly exacerbate the situation." A spokesman for the ROK presidential office said that Japanese leasers are taking the missile test as an excuse for taking the road for military expansion. A ROK government official even said: from a historical and long-term point of view, Japan is our security threat.
The "preemptive strike" is creating a new crisis before the "missile crisis" is over. The relevant parties should be prudent and exercise cautions and take real responsibility for regional security and stability. The "preemptive strike" theory much resembles an echo of what Japanese politicians made six or seven decades ago.
Comments by Jin Xide with the Institute of Japanese Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was third-paged by People's Daily, July 13, and translated by People's Daily Online.