• Yomiuri Editorial
  • N. Korea’s missile launch

Move swiftly to establish specific counterattack capabilities

Is North Korea trying to demonstrate its missile attack capabilities? The country has fired a series of ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan.

Japan must hasten to establish effective means of counterattack, based on security cooperation with the United States and South Korea.

It was the 16th round of launches by North Korea this year. One of the missiles is believed to have been an intercontinental ballistic missile that was launched at a higher angle than usual. It reportedly flew about 300 kilometers at an altitude of about 550 kilometers.

Another missile had an irregular trajectory and a flight distance of about 750 kilometers. According to the South Korean military, a third missile was fired, but South Korea quickly lost track of its trajectory.

North Korea probably waited to conduct the launches until after U.S. President Joe Biden finished his visits to Japan and South Korea.

The spread of the coronavirus is becoming increasingly serious in North Korea, and Pyongyang is in a situation in which it must seek international assistance. Nevertheless, it fired a series of ballistic missiles in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, which is clear proof of its disregard for its people’s lives.

North Korea is developing a variety of missiles, including short- and medium-range projectiles capable of striking South Korea and Japan, and ICBMs capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.

There is speculation that North Korea will soon conduct a seventh nuclear test. Leader Kim Jong Un, who is also general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, has even hinted at the possibility of putting nuclear weapons to practical use.

To deal properly with the growing nuclear- and missile-related threats from North Korea, the nations of Japan, the United States and South Korea must urgently expand their missile defense shields and strengthen deterrence, including counterattack capabilities.

During his visits to Japan and South Korea, Biden reaffirmed that expanded deterrence would be provided to those nations, including through the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Japan and South Korea need to improve their respective defense capabilities, based on U.S. nuclear deterrence.

Japan is considering possessing counterattack capabilities to deter North Korea from attacking.

There are many issues to be solved to achieve this, such as what kinds of missiles should be deployed and how, as well as how to establish an intelligence-gathering system to identify counterattack targets. The cooperation of the U.S. military is essential to deal with these matters.

It is hoped that the Japanese government will make efforts to establish a system that can effectively deal with a wide range of missiles, through such measures as close consultations and joint exercises with the United States. The vitalization of Japan-South Korea security cooperation, which has been stagnant, would also be beneficial.

China has criticized the United States for heightening its cooperation with relevant countries for the sake of peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, calling it “a strategy of inciting confrontation.” That claim is far wide of the mark.

If China values stability, Beijing should first control the reckless moves of North Korea, a nation that it supports.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 26, 2022)