North Korean Attack on South Korea and How It Affects Japan

north_korea_launch_site_in_sea_of_japan_mapThis past Tuesday (November 23rd),  North Korea launched an artillery attack on a South Korean island, killing two military personnel and two civilians and wounding many others. North Korea claimed it was retaliation for a South Korean military drill that infringed on the North Korean border, but South Korean allies are claiming that the North Korean attack was premeditated and deliberate and that there was no such infringement on the part of South Korea.

How does this affect Japan? Along with South Korea and the USA, Japan is one of the primary targets of North Korea’s aggression. North Korea has before “tested” its missiles into the Pacific Ocean toward Japan, at least twice sending missiles that flew over Japan in 1998 and 2009. There are many reasons why North Korea chooses its enemies, mostly because they feel threatened by the other countries. Japan may be a target because of its alliance with South Korea and the USA, but also because of hostilities against Korea (which then included South Korea as well) during World War II.

Of course Japan is one of the first countries to step up to condemn these attacks on South Korea, with Prime Minister Kan calling the attack “an intolerable act of barbarism,” and pointing out that “we have been strongly condemning North Korea and this stance will stay unchanged.”

Kan went on to say when addressing the Japanese government, “I believe that the lives of Japanese people will not immediately be influenced. But to make sure that will not be the case, I’d like you all to make efforts.”1

Japan and the USA are currently pressuring China to step in and condemn the attacks, as China has some economic and political influence over North Korea. China has long remained reluctant to take an official stance on the North Korea vs. South Korea issue, however, and has possibly even leaned toward supporting North Korea in the past for political reasons. Meanwhile, South Korean and American troops stationed in South Korea are currently practicing military games in the region in order to show North Korea how prepared they are for a fight, should it come to that. So far, North Korea has not proclaimed war, merely citing retaliation for one perceived attack.

What do you think of this week’s attack on South Korea? Should China be made to step in? Should the UN? Can either have an impact on North Korea? What should Japan do?

1 “Kan, Lee to work closely following N Korean attack.” Japan Today. 24 November 2010. .

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Tags: japan, japan news, north korea, politics, south korea, usa