North Korea and Japan are all over the news currently, due to the former firing ballistic missiles over the country without any warning or prior permission. This is the first time such a thing has happened in the last five years and just goes to show the Kim Jong Un government’s escalating testing of weapons without getting proper authorization.
As per the latest news, Japan has sent out an alert to residents of Aomori prefecture, Hokkaido and Tokyo’s Izu and Ogasawara islands to take shelter and not roam out too much.
Japan’s national broadcaster NHK issued the following alert “North Korea appears to have launched a missile. Please evacuate into buildings or underground.”
According to Japanese officials, the alerts were shared at 7.30 am local time and even a tweet by Japan’s Prime Minister’s office said that residents should shelter themselves inside buildings and “not approach anything suspicious that is found and to immediately contact the police or fire department.”
But what is all this in regards too, and is the situation really that serious?
North Korea Fires Missiles Over Japan
On Tuesday, 4th October 2022, North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile, going much ahead in terms of distance than before, soaring over Japan. This is the first time since 2017 that such a direction was taken by the missile that as per Japanese officials “flew about 4,600 kilometers (2,858 miles) for 20 minutes at an estimated maximum altitude of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) over Japan’s Tohoku region on the main island of Honshu before falling into the Pacific Ocean, some 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) from the country’s shore”.
The missile was an intermediate-range one fired from Mupyong-ri, a place that lies close to North Korea’s central border with China. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) stated that the missile was reportedly fired at 7.23 am in the morning.
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While there is no news of an actual war or even a possibility of one happening between the two countries, the Japanese government has expressed its extreme condemnation of North Korea’s actions.
Apparently, the United Nations (UN) has restricted the country from testing ballistic and nuclear weapons, and doing so by any country in general, without giving any prior information or discussion with government authorities is quite against the international norms.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, speaking at a news conference said that “North Korea’s series of actions, including its repeated ballistic missile launches, threatens the peace and security of Japan, the region, and the international community, and poses a serious challenge to the entire international community, including Japan.”
National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson also gave the statement that “This action is destabilizing and shows the DPRK (North Korea)’s blatant disregard for United Nations Security Council resolutions and international safety norms.”
Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada stated that the test firing was “an extremely problematic act from the perspective of ensuring the safety of not only aircraft and ships, but also the residents of the area where the ballistic missile is believed to have passed over.”
He further added that “Japan cannot tolerate such a move, and we have made a protest to North Korea through its embassy in Beijing, condemning it in the strongest possible terms.”
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also called the missile launch “a series of outrageous acts” and “barbaric” while speaking to reporters about this incident.
The office of President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea said that “North Korea’s continuous provocations will not be ignored and we make it clear that it will have to pay a price for them.” It also added that South Korea would be working with Washington to make the sanctions against North Korea stronger.
Is There An Actual War Waiting To Happen?
While there are not yet signs of any war between Japan and North Korea, experts are clearly seeing this as just another step in the latter’s attempts at strengthening its nuclear power.
Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul commented that “The Kim regime is developing weapons such as tactical nuclear warheads and submarine-launched ballistic missiles as part of a long-term strategy to outrun South Korea in an arms race and drive wedges among US allies.”
There have also been reports that Washington and the International Atomic Energy Agency are claiming that the country might be getting ready for their first nuclear test since 2017.
Speaking to CNN the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute, Jeffrey Lewis said “North Korea is going to keep conducting missile tests until the current round of modernization is done. I don’t think a nuclear (test) explosion is far behind.”
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