China, Japan, and South Korea should unite to contain America’s approach to North Korea
Ri Kuk-Chol, Chika Mori, and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The leadership of North Korea is predictable in many ways with respect to international brinkmanship and appearing to be a geopolitical nightmare. Yet, unlike America that often bombs or invades sovereign nations, the nation of North Korea doesn’t wage wars on regional nations based on concerning itself on the Korean peninsula. Indeed, while North Korea and South Korea remain hostile towards each other – and with South Korea having the armed forces of America on its land – only minor skirmishes have occurred since the ending of the Korean War.
Individuals on the whole in northeast China, Japan, South Korea, and the Russian Federation in the Far East don’t to any degree fear a military invasion by North Korea. This is based on regional nations understanding the peculiarities of North Korea. However, with the current American administration under President Trump in the area of foreign policy being estranged based on contradictory statements, and the apparent hawkish nature of certain individuals, then alarm bells are ringing throughout the region.
It is equally essential that the Japanese government under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe doesn’t play the nationalist card. Equally, Abe should not put faith in an untried Trump administration that thinks it can act by itself. After all, if America attacks North Korea then the likelihood of retaliation against South Korea – and possibly Japan – may occur.
Recently, America decided to reroute its naval forces and head them to the disputed Korean Peninsula. Hence, the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, three missile-guided destroyers, fighter jets, and other military hardware is heading to the region in order to up the ante against North Korea. Indeed, it may be that the bombing of Syria was part of the Trump’s administration tactic in putting more pressure on North Korea.
New York Times reports, “At a meeting last week at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, he joined with President Xi Jinping of China in warning of the increasing menace posed by North Korea’s advancing nuclear weapons program. Asked on Sunday why the Navy ships were being redirected toward the Korean Peninsula, the president’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, said it was a “prudent” step to take.”
It is imperative that China presses on Japan and South Korea not to inflame the situation. Instead, political elites in Beijing seek to put great economic and political pressure on North Korea, if this nation continues to focus on weapons of mass destruction. However, the fear is that Japan under Abe may believe that new anti-North Korea potentials exist because of geopolitical hawks in the Trump administration. Equally worrying, the country of South Korea faces many internal problems based on a major corruption scandal that is rocking this nation. Therefore, it is hoped that Japan and South Korea see the folly of antagonising North Korea and encouraging hawks in the Trump administration.
Political dialogue is needed on the Korean Peninsula and not hotheads in all directions. Of course, the country of North Korea also needs to understand that a new crisis is emerging based on its modernization of weapons of mass destruction. Despite all the negatives thrown at North Korea, and too many to mention, in the past brinkmanship was the reality. However, a naïve hawkish Trump administration – the opposite of what he promised – then things could easily spiral out of control.
It is all well and fine for the Trump administration to threaten North Korea but the reality is that ordinary citizens in South Korea and Japan will face the brunt of such folly. Given this reality, then political elites in China, Japan, and South Korea should focus on a new strategy based on “substantive talks” and with Beijing playing a key role. In other words, hawks in America and North Korea – and Abe must put the people of Japan first instead of any notions of nationalism – need to be contained by China, South Korea, and a pragmatic Japan.
Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group
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