Japan and the North Korean Dilemma: Thinking the Unthinkable


What are the likely scenarios for resolution of the North Korean problem, and how can Japan help bring about such a resolution? In a recent interview, Tokyo Foundation research fellow and security expert Bonji Ohara spoke candidly about the prospects for war and peace on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea has carried out quite a few nuclear tests and missile launches over the years. Why has that activity suddenly created such a high level of international tension?

BONJI OHARA: I think the basic reason is a sudden surge in American awareness of the North Korean threat. For the past two decades, Washington has followed a policy of “strategic patience” with regard to Pyongyang and its nuclear weapons program. But recently the administration of President Donald Trump declared this policy a failure and said that all options were on the table. These remarks provoked a furious reaction from North Korea, resulting in the situation we’re looking at today.

What’s driving Washington’s response is alarm over the speed at which North Korea’s nuclear technology is progressing. Pyongyang began making reference to possession of ballistic missiles early last year, and the range of its missiles is definitely expanding. Such factors have convinced many observers that a fully functional intercontinental ballistic missile can’t be far off. The idea that Pyongyang might soon have the capability to target the United States directly—not just with words but with actual nuclear weapons—has fueled Washington’s sense of crisis…

Read more : Tokyo Foundation, 09.05.2017