A series of recent incidents have highlighted the difficult security environment in which Japan finds itself.
Korea’s Central Pyongyang News Agency reported on September 13 that the North Korean Academy of National Defense Sciences had successfully tested its new long-range cruise missile, which flew for just over two hours. to hit a target. 1,500 kilometers away.
If the reported distance is true, most of Japan is now within striking range of North Korea. Tokyo, for example, is about 1,100 kilometers from the southeast of North Korea. And the town of Iwakuni, in Yamaguchi prefecture, where there is an American military base, is only 650 kilometers away. The North is now likely to accelerate its combat missile deployment program.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato succinctly summed up Japan’s concerns at a press conference later the same day: “If that’s true [that the missile traveled 1,500 km], it threatens the peace and security of the region surrounding Japan.
North Korea’s nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches violate several United Nations Security Council resolutions. While recent cruise missile launches have not been the subject of the resolutions, there is no doubt that they pose a threat to both Japan and the region. Japan is expected to take further steps to intercept the missiles and deter Pyongyang from firing them, while stepping up diplomatic efforts to prevent North Korea from launching long-range cruise missiles.
If a cruise missile flies low like an airplane, early detection is difficult with radar that cannot cover beyond the horizon.
China has nuclear-powered cruise missiles capable of reaching Japan. North Korea is also likely aiming to develop missiles capable of carrying weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear and chemical weapons, as well as conventional warheads. Its development of long-range cruise missiles should not be tolerated.
Threats do not come only from North Korea. On September 10, a submarine was spotted sailing underwater in a contiguous area just outside Japanese territorial waters east of Amami-Oshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture. The Defense Ministry believes it to be a Chinese Navy submarine. While safe passage through the contiguous zone is not necessarily illegal under international law, diving just outside the territorial waters of Japan is an act of provocation. The Defense Ministry made it public as an extraordinary incident.
Meanwhile, a Russian plane entered Japanese airspace twice on September 12 off the Shiretoko Peninsula, northeast of Hokkaido. The intrusion prompted the Air Self-Defense Force fighters to rush in and warn the plane to leave the area.
These problematic military measures by Japan’s neighbors appear to be deliberately timed to take advantage of the transition in national politics, with the upcoming leadership election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The government and the Self-Defense Forces must become even more vigilant.
At the same time, candidates for the LDP leadership race should clearly express their views on how they perceive the country’s security environment and how they intend to protect the Japanese people. against nuclear and missile threats, including whether Japan should acquire a strike capability for self-defense against enemy bases.
(Read it Sankei Shimbun editorial in Japanese on this link.)
Author: editorial board, The Sankei Shimbun