Showing posts with label north korea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label north korea. Show all posts

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Striking a conciliatory tone on an issue that has divided Japan and the United States, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said on Thursday that the Obama administration would follow Tokyo’s lead in working to relocate an American air base on Okinawa. NYT

So what the hell was all the fuss about last year?

Thank you, China and North Korea.

Oh, wait a second--- "follow Tokyo's lead" could conceivably be different than Okinawa's would be.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Kan maybe not so unrealistic

PM Kan has been reported to suggest that the SDF would go to Korea in case of war. This has been judged to be unrealistic by some in the ROK. It certainly might cause problems for an untested force that has never participated* in exercises with the US/Korea forces (not ground combat anyway), and with no known (at least not widely known) planning for such actions with South Korea or the US. Then one would have to wonder just what the SDF could do that the ROK could not do about 10 zillion times better in a war in Korea. And how would the SDF know where the abducted Japanese are in North Korea? Would it be involved in the war only to protect Japanese? "Oh, a nearby ROK unit is is isolated, outnumbered, and needs immediate assistance. Sorry, we are only here for self-defense and that means Japanese citizens. Gomen ne. Gambatte!"

Of course there just might be some small possibility of a slight objection to Japanese military forces in Korea by the Koreans and Chinese even though they could be reassured by explaining that the SDF is not really a military as Japan is prohibited from having a military by its constitution.

So I thought, but then Martin Fackler wrote this article for the New York Times: Japan to Shift its Military Toward Threats from China

... Japan’s new Democratic Party government has been pulling closer to Washington, spurred by a bruising diplomatic clash three months ago with China over the disputed islands and fears about North Korea’s nuclear program.

.... Washington has proposed forging stronger three-way military ties that would also include its other key regional ally, South Korea...

...During a visit to the region last week, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, urged Japan to join American military exercises with South Korea. In a meeting with Japan’s defense minister, Toshimi Kitazawa, Admiral Mullen said the two nations needed to support South Korea after North Korea’s deadly shelling last month of a South Korean island...

Fackler also vaguely notes that the ROK vice minister of defense visited Tokyo last week to discuss "increased bilateral cooperation" with his Japanese counterpart.

*Or if it did, it was kept very much under wraps, so much so that most US military never knew it. In other words, nearly impossible.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Unpredictable, irrational DPRK

A very short history of the DPRK and some possible rational why the unpredictable country that seems strangely predictable is behaving so irrationally is online at PBS. Some parts may be quibble worthy* (was Kim Il-sung really an anti-Japanese guerrilla or could that be part or all myth?), but it might give some insight:

North Koreans have long felt threatened by American nuclear weapons, and sought protection under the Soviet nuclear umbrella by signing a mutual defense treaty with the USSR in 1961. But North Korea does not have a lot of trust in Russia or China either... is surrounded by enemies or, at best, untrustworthy "friends"...

...This modern state of insecurity is built upon an older history of colonialism and traditional isolation to create an attitude of profound suspicion of the outside world...PBS

*Others may argue that Japanese colonialism of Korea was not really colonialism among other things.

PM Kan's TV

Although it is tough to pull away from the antics of the unpredictable DPRK which for some reason seems to be generally predictable, one can entertain oneself with some good TV. Failing that, one can find PM Kan's TV online. This will help folks try to figure out just what the government is doing since it isn't exactly obvious otherwise. It is available in English and in Japanese. (Unfortunately, it cannot be embedded.)

From the reactions of the people I talked to about the recent shelling of South Korea by the North, a little publicity/spin about Kan's achievements* is both long overdue and too late. Somehow, the shelling of the ROK just emphasized the apparent weakness and incompetence of the Kan government. Although none of these folks knew what any of the other parties could have done better, no one said they would do worse.

Now gotta go back online and read opinions of what to do about Korea from folks--- many or most of---whom you just know have less information about what is going than an observant and minimally informed E-1 who is stationed 100 miles south of the DMZ.

*Don't know if this "TV" would ever work in spite of it being spellbindingly exciting and tremendously informative.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

DPRK bids for attention or ?

A bit of a buzz on Twitter as the DPRK has shelled Yeonpyeong island off northwest South Korea. According to a report on MSN Japan (in Japanese), ROK's president believes the shelling may be in response to an exercise the ROK military was holding. The ROK has reportedly returned fire. One South Korean soldier was killed, but I would be surprised if there were not more fatalities after seeing videos on TV (a photo here/a video here). Well, the short 10 or so minute report I saw on NHK before they returned to sumo. I suppose it is understandable that there is more TV coverage of a DPRK test missile that drops into the sea near Japan than an actual artillery attack on the ROK.

No one really knows what the North will do---at least no one in a position to be writing a blog post about it---but we have to remember what the North has done in the post Korean War period. Dozens of attacks around the DMZ, particularly heavy from 1968-69 in which 75 US military were killed/111 wounded while the ROK suffered 299 killed/550 wounded*, the Tree Incident in the DMZ, the seizure of the USS Pueblo, the attack on the Blue House and attempted assassination of President Park Chung-hi, the numerous killings of South Koreans by DPRK agents (gotta be a little careful here, as some of the killings which occurred under Park and his early successors may have only been blamed on the DPRK), the 1983 bombing in Burma in an attempt to assassinate the ROK president, killing 21 and injuring 46, the kidnappings of Japanese citizens from Japan, the recent sinking of a South Korea warship by a DPRK torpedo, the nuclear provocations, now an artillery barrage on what appears to be a civilian area, and....maybe the list can go on forever.

I have heard it said that the DPRK leaders are not crazy and know that they would lose any war with the ROK/US, but the fact that there has been no 2nd war (yet) is due to the restraint of South Korea and the US, not to anything the North has done.

It will be interesting to see China's reaction...

Remain calm. Now, back to sumo. Zzzzzzzzzzzz.....

*Not sure about the time period the figures covers, but I believe they are the 1968-69 period as I understand the linked article.

1815 edited to add: Interestingly---or not---in 1989 or 90, I had a TA from China who argued that the US and ROK had started the Korea War from that vicinity of Korea. As I recall, she believed that we started it from the area on the peninsula just above Yeonpyeong Island.

7pm: edited yet again.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

PM Hatoyama has emphasized that there is no connection between the abduction issue and tuition waivers (or not) for "pro-Pyongyang" high schools. Yukio explained, "But the problem is whether we can examine the curricula of a country that does not have any diplomatic ties (with Japan)...."It has nothing to do with the abduction issue." Japan Times.

So related or not, it seems very likely that the end result will be no tuition waiver for children in those schools.

Just recently, the
U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, issued it's report on Japan. According to the report, things have improved somewhat since 2001, but there's still plenty of to room to go. Some of the criticism was aimed at the treatment of Chinese and Korean "nationals" such as the lack of accreditation for their schools. One NGO showed a video of kind nutjobs in Kyoto:

...waving flags and protesting aggressively in front of a North Korean school in Kyoto Prefecture, shouting phrases such as "This is a North Korean spy training center!" Japan Times: Japan faces UN...

According to that article, other members expressed concern that these schools received no "government funding at a time when the government is considering removing tuition fees for public high schools."

I, too, would like to state that the abduction issue and the tuition waiver are not, and could not possibly be related. It's a simple matter of coincidence and bureaucratic rules.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Soft power

Hiroshi Nakai, minister in charge of the abduction issue, has asked education minister Tatsuo Kawabata to bar schools that cater to the children of residents with ethnic ties to North Korea from the planned tuition-free subsidy program, government sources said.

Nakai...wants the exemption put in place to demonstrate Japan's firm stance on the abduction issue...Japan Times

One just has to figure that when your influence over another country drops to the point where you have to start targeting children of an ethnic group in your own country in spite, you're out of ammo.

According to the article, guidelines being considered might mean that these schools could be disqualified anyway because due to the lack of diplomatic relations because Japan cannot assess if schools in North Korea nearly match Japan's educational standards, so it seems that Nakai's idea does nothing more than show Kim Jung-il that we mean business and we can back it up. Take that Mr. Kim.

I am sure that Kim Jung-il, who has not shown any special sympathy to seeing his own people starve, or been reluctant to imprison and execute unknown numbers, is going to be moved to resolve the abduction issue because some fine examples of leadership in the Japanese government want to withhold education money from certain residents of Japan.

2/23Feb: A short article from LA Times on the Chosen schools in Japan is here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ol' Duke and the DPRK

When I was in the USAF, I once had a drug dog named Duke.

Now Ol' Duke was a somewhat nutty dog, in fact one of the nuttiest that I ever handled or trained. What made Ol' Duke nutty was not only that he was flaky and hard to train as a drug dog, but the fact that he played bad-ass all the time---especially with me. Rub his stomach and he'd growl and give me the eye like he was ready to chew my arm off. Tell him to get into a vehicle and he'd do the same. Tell him to get out and ditto. Sometimes, he even growled when he peed.

One day, when I was taking him back to the kennels to put him away after a midnight shift, he seemed to sense that I was going on break for 3 days. He was not especially enthusiastic about that. When I reached over to grab the leash and take him out of the car, he grabbed my forearm with his mouth, looked me right in the eye, and put just a little pressure on---not enough to really hurt, but enough that I could feel his big canines pushing into my skin.

Now I had seen all of Duke's tricks before, and although I usually just laughed at him, this was different. Duke may have been a bit of a bluffer, but he had bitten a previous handler and was, of course, attack-trained. I wasn't afraid of the old boy, but I did have respect for what he could do.

Ol' Kim Jung Il et al of North Korea have been making noises again. Just a day or so ago, they changed their stance that any nukes that they produced would only be for defensive purposes and said that they would now use them in a "merciless offensive".

I no longer have any access to any classified information. About all I can do is read media reports and items from various sources on the Internut, and everyone knows how unreliable those often are. But I do think that I "know" enough to guess that the DPRK's latest growls are nothing but growls, for exactly what nukes are they gonna use? I suppose they could have more ready to go than the two that they tested, but I kinda doubt it.*

Ol' Duke had more sense as he had something to back up his growls and it wouldn't have gotten him killed if he did. Is far as I know, the DPRK can only fully back up theirs by killing thousands of South Koreans in Seoul and starting a war which would assure the destruction of the regime.

I felt sorry for Ol' Duke** and stayed late playing with him that morning and later came back during my break to spend more time with him. Who will feel sorry for Ol' Kim?

*24 June: Estimates are that they have enough plutonium for at least 6. I have seen other estimates that they may already have several more. There seems to be few who believe that they have the ability to mount any on missiles yet.

**Alas, poor old Duke is long gone, unlike the should-have-been-history-by-now Stalinist government of North Korea.

Monday, June 08, 2009

More concerns that DPRK will push Japan to nukes

At the same time that the US is considering putting North Korea back on the terrorist list, and placing more financial restrictions on the country, and the UN Security Council seems to be getting a little more serious about tougher sanctions, North Korea has sentenced two US journalists to 12 years in prison:

North Korea on Monday sentenced two American journalists to 12 years of hard labor in a case widely seen as a test of how far the isolated Communist state was willing to take its confrontational stance toward the United States. NYT article

Obama appears to have gotten fed up with DPRK's repeated games and won't offer any new incentives for it to dismantle the nuclear facility, and fears that Kim Jong-il and crowd will start a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia:

...Mrs. Clinton said the United States feared that if the test and other recent actions by North Korea did not lead to “strong action,” there was a risk of “an arms race in Northeast Asia” — an oblique reference to the concern that Japan would reverse its long-held ban against developing nuclear weapons. NYT US Weighs Interecpting North Korean Shipments.

North Korea has threatened war if the UN imposes sanctions or if the US/UN interferes with its vessels. Of course they've threatened war many times since the last war they fought in which they would utterly defeated until China felt threatened enough to intercede. But who really knows what Kim will do?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Relax, the DPRK is not governed by suicidal nuts

I used to listen to Radio Pyongyang on shortwave, and it was always somewhat amusing as it sounded like some bad propaganda film from the 50s. So in a way, it's hard to take the loud threats from North Korea too seriously.

Then again, one has to remember the South Koreans, Japanese, French, Americans and others that the regime has kidnapped or killed over the years. And Ragoon, Burma* where in 1983 North Korean agents blew up and killed a number of ROK government officials in an attempt on the president's life. Or its bombing of a civilian aircraft (CAUTION:Wikipedia link). The USS Pueblo. The attacks on the US Army on the "DMZ" during the Vietnam War which left at least 75 members of the US military and 299 ROK soldiers dead; its ax murder of a US Army major in the mid 1970s, again in the "DMZ;" its attempt to murder the then president of South Korea, Park Chung-hi.

Those things are generally considered purty close to being acts of war. So it's hard to be reassured by those "in the know" that Kim Jung Il and the North Korean leadership are not nuts and wouldn't really risk a suicidal war.

Now the leadership of North Korea has decided to say the Korean War truce is no longer valid and threatened to attack South Korea if its ships are searched as a result of the little nuclear detonation and missile launch games they are playing.

Analysts in Seoul said they regarded North Korea's warnings as serious but doubted the willingness of Kim to provoke a large-scale confrontation.

"The problem is that both sides cannot afford to make a concession," said Dong Yong-seung, a senior fellow at the North Korean division of Samsung Economic Research Institute. "It is like a game of chicken." NYT, non-Onion version (?).

And that's probably true. Trouble is, one of those playing chicken has shown numerous signs in the past of being just a bit unstable in the noggin' by most standards, regardless of its real goals and intentions.

If Japan had the bomb, none of this would be happening of course. There's magic in them thar bombs.

*Some prefer the military dictatorship's "Myanmar."

Nothing has changed in decades

“People who tell you they know what’s going on there don’t know,” said one official, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to speak publicly. “What’s undeniable is that there are substantial challenges to all the previous approaches to North Korea.” NYT

Monday, May 25, 2009

Flu Panic Spreads as North Korea sets off nuke


Unmasked residents, eyes pixelated in fear,
flee across the street after an uncovered sneeze
was reported in a local eyeglass shop.

TOKYO--Panic spread out of control in Japan today as it was announced that the unpredictable leader of North Korea had set off a nuke just days after Iran got in the headlines by testing a new missile. To add to the nuke fears, a shortage of masks in Tokyo and as far away as Nagano prefecture has caused many to flee in hysteria at the slightest hint of a cough or sneeze. Government officials have been in meetings since the detonation to determine if these combined panics are necessary or not. Reports that the WHO is considering revising its pandemic alert levels to eliminate Level 6 "Pandemic" and go straight to a Level 7 "Kiss your ass goodbye" are adding to the chaos.

Many Monday commuters were seen holding their breath to avoid being infected by either Swine flu virus or radioactive fallout from the North Korean blast. Due to the shortage of anti-Swine flu masks, only one person in Tokyo was spotted wearing the life-saving item.

Millions flee a station exit
gasping for air in a blind panic
after holding their breath for the
duration of their commute.

By noon Monday, the outspoken but harmless nationalist, Governor Shintaro Ishihara was seen mounting a tank in preparation to lead a preemptive strike against dangerous, criminally-inclined, rioting non-Japanese and little old ladies.

UPDATE: Tokyo--Prime Minister Aso announced that the elections scheduled for later this summer were to be postponed indefinitely. "We cannot afford to play politics as long as there are nuclear weapons and viruses on the planet," Mr. Aso reluctantly stated.

In a separate and entirely unrelated development, the Tokyo prosecutor's office announced an investigation into the DPJ's new leader Yukio Hatoyama over past claims that Hatoyama had contacts in terrorist organizations. Prosecutors vigorously denied any political motives when it was pointed out that it was the LDP's Kunio Hatoyama who had made those claims about himself while Justice Minister, not Yukio Hatoyama. A spokesman said that the charges were very serious and that Yukio Hatoyama had to be impartially, but thoroughly investigated to make sure that he was not Kunio Hatoyama.

Visiting Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman said that the Bush administration was responsible for all these problems.

Ima Loony, head of the NPO "Ethics in Eikaiwa Chain Schools" and Oi Bakero of "Reporters with No Standards" contributed to this article from under a blue tarp along the Tama River.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I'm guessing that this would be a mistake

Beijing would welcome direct US-North Korean talks, the Chinese foreign minister suggested in an interview published on Friday, amid international efforts to get Pyongyang to end its nuclear programme. AFP

We've been down that road before (before Japan decided that it had interests there too) and did not it turn out well. The other players, the ROK and Japan in particular would be unlikely to accept any agreement coming out of those talks. Japan might, but then the fine folk on the extreme right would be rattling on about another back-stabbing by their true enemy, the US.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Stop the insanity! Done. Next Item?

The world has changed a lot since the days of the Bush administration when it seemed like international diplomacy was run by a group of loony-tunes.

A few weeks ago, Dear Father* Kim Jung Il of North Korea, feeling lonely and neglected, decided to ring a bell by launching a missile---err satellite---while President Obama was in Europe making a speech about (yawn) eliminating nuclear weapons. Like Pavlov puppies , the US and its erstwhile ally Japan immediately began slobbering.

Resisting the urges of the calmer, more rational folks who suggested some military action against North Korea as long as they themselves didn't get their asses shot off, President Obama sprang into action.

Obama rejected the old Bush wimp-out by refusing to merely call Kim and North Korea bad names such as Axis of Evil. No, Obama decided to hit North Korea where it hurts; to do that one thing that all sends the fear of god through the souls of all dictators and tyrants. Obama, with Japan at his side (the Japan that suddenly remembered that the Six Party Talks about North Korean nukes were about more than just hostages/abductees) went to the UN!

Things did not go as planned at the UN, however, for Russia and China stunned the planet by refusing to play along. No problem, says Barack, we'll talk it over. No more pushy USA, we'll get results by drawing upon the natural love and admiration that the international community always had for the US before Bush.

After much deliberation and singing of Kumbaya, the UN issued a fierce statement saying something along the lines that North Korea had done wrong when it committed the heretofore unheard of act of violating a UN sanction or something like that.

Kim Jung Il, upon receiving the UN nasty-gram, immediately went into a panic and began running around in circles screaming "Oh my god, what shall I do now!" After his generals calmed him down, the unpredictable Kim decided to do that which nobody could have predicted: They decided to withdraw from the Six Party Talks and restart the nuclear facility. (clang! clang!)

Meanwhile, back in Japan, the fearless rightwing was shocked and saddened to learn that the US-Japan alliance had failed. That girlie-man Obama had ruled out shooting down the North Korean missile before it reached the Land of the Rising Sun. This was the evidence they needed to do something that they had never done before and start whimpering that the US was an untrustworthy ally. Many had already reluctantly come to the conclusion that had Japan not had Article 9 which prohibits it from having military unless they are called self-defense forces, it would have been able to have defended itself and shot the missile down at launch. It would have been able to have done this even though it was off just a little---about a day---in its detection of the launch.

Had the Japan rightwing had its way, by god, and attacked North Korea it would have ended the problem in a heartbeat. Japan would have been back on track to regaining its rightful position as the much-loved and respected leader of Asia. China would have shown admiration for Japan's new military assertiveness. South Korea, after seeing an attack on its fellow Koreans by their beloved ally Japan, would have been waving the hinomaru and shouting "Go Nippon!"

It's such a relief to have returned to saner times.

*More commonly called Dear Leader nowadays.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Satellite launched

North Korea says it did launch a rocket at 11:20AM on April 5.

Unha-2, which was launched at the Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground in Hwadae County, North Hamgyong Province at 11:20 (0220 GMT) on April 5, accurately put Kwangmyongsong-2 into its orbit at 11:29:02, nine minutes and two seconds after its launch. Reuters.

Oops! Luckily, Japan isn't considering a retaliatory strike

A false alarm was sounded in Japan Saturday when the government announced North Korea had carried out an expected rocket launch. Japan quickly rescinded the announcement but not before the report had been widely disseminated both in the country and internationally. Full VOA report.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Minoru Morita on North Korea

I'm beginning to like the old guy.

Commenting on Japan's reaction (over-reaction?) to the likely North Korea missile launch, Morita said:

"If Japan fails an intercepting attempt, it would be a serious setback for the country's defense policy, because people would think the costly missile defense system is not reliable,"...

...after taking it this far, Japan dare not actually try to intercept debris and fail and end up losing everything, including their credibility." Full story AP

Then, what would be the point?

UNITED NATIONS/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China and Russia are all but certain to stymie a U.S. push for new U.N. sanctions on North Korea if it fires off a rocket, leaving tighter enforcement of existing penalties a likelier outcome.

Wouldn't it be just as effective for the Security Council to threaten to throw spitballs at a photo of Kim Jong Il?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What a relief!

The New York Times is reporting that if North Korea launches its latest missile (we can be confident that it will) it will be taken before the UN Security Council!

There. That will show Ol' Kim Jong Il. Sort of a "Go ahead punk, make my day" threat. BAHAHAHAHAHA! April 1 is near, isn't it?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

North Korea needs attention least they are not blowing up airliners or half the South Korean government anymore. At least not at present:

Two American journalists on a reporting trip to the border between China and North Korea have been detained by the North Korean military, a human rights activist and another source said Thursday. Laura Ling, a Chinese-American, and Euna Lee, a Korean-American, were believed to have been detained by North Korean border guards Tuesday morning. Their Chinese guide, an ethnic Korean, was also detained. NYT

The North Koreans are said to have crossed the border into China to "arrest" them. Kim Jong Il, the son of a murdering sob, is visiting China.

Oh well, no surprise here.