Shintaro Ishihara on North Korea


“Japan’s support for the war is special,” believes Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara.

“We are under threat ourselves from another terrorist state, North Korea, which has kidnapped 150 of our citizens. 150 people! I don’t think any of them are alive. Pyongyang is also sending boatloads of drugs to Japan to harm our youngsters, and it has missiles ready to hit 15 Japanese cities. What other country would tolerate this?

“This should be called what it is — terror, and the Japanese government should recognize this and stand up to the North Koreans. We should say that we don’t want to leap into a war but if it comes to it we won’t avoid it either, together with a policy of sanctions and seizure of the assets of North Korean organizations in Japan. Al-Qaeda assets in the U.S. are confiscated. Why shouldn’t we?”

Wouldn’t this problem be better handled through the United Nations, I ask.

“The U.N. doesn’t have that sort of power. It’s a vague talking shop made up of winners from the last war. It’s full of factions. When real decisions have to be made, money crosses palms and people disappear to the toilet. I have no trust in it.”

But surely this is better than one country running the world in its own interests?

“Perhaps, but is the U.N. really a body that reflects the true balance of world economic power? The Security Council is made up of winners from the last war. If they gave Japan and Germany a seat, at least it would better reflect the state of the world.”

Many have suggested, I say, that the problems on the Korean peninsula should be left to the Koreans themselves to sort out, that reasonable diplomatic progress was being made before the Bush administration came to power.

“You mean the Sunshine Policy? Do you really think the policies of Kim Dae Jung were working? (All throughout), the North was becoming more dangerous.

“This is the country that says it is ready to deliver a ‘sea of fire’ over Japan.

“Personally I think that’s just propaganda, but when the North says it the stupid Japanese media believe it. I don’t think they have the technology. Maybe enough to deliver a big primitive weapon like the Fatman or Little Boy dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, perhaps filled with anthrax or sarin gas. But even then they would have to drop it from a parachute over our airspace and I doubt it would have much effect.”

If they are that little a threat, then war between Japan and North Korea is unlikely, right?

“Let’s say we attack another of their boats in our territory and put their spies in prison or execute them. That could spark another crisis. The expectation then from Japan’s side is that America would jump in to help us, but we really don’t know if they will, so that would probably mean war.

“And if it does, we’ll win, no question about it. At least the Japanese government should let Pyongyang know that they can expect sanctions and revenge.”