Asia Pacific

North Korea returning to strategy of fanning flames of crisis, Japanese think tank report says

JIJI

North Korea has shifted its foreign policy focus back to the strategy of fanning a mood of crisis by resuming missile launches last year, Japan’s National Institute for Defense Studies said Friday.

Pyongyang ha taken the strategy that depends on a nuclear option as talks with the United States falter, the think tank associated with the Defense Ministry said in its East Asian Strategic Review 2020 report.

It also said that relations between Tokyo and Seoul soured after an incident in which the South Korean military directed its fire-control radar at a Maritime Self-Defense Force patrol plane in December 2018.

The situation is deeply troublesome for trilateral cooperation between Japan, South Korea and the United States over North Korea, according to the report.

The report also voiced worries over China’s development of hypersonic missiles such as the DF-17, which is capable of carrying nuclear warheads and getting past Japan’s current air-defense system.

China’s missile attack capability is greatly increasing, the report said, adding that the country is also looking to gain an advantage on the electromagnetic front, boosting equipment for information communications and cyberwarfare.

But it said that amicable Sino-Japanese relations are becoming increasingly important to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s administration, given deterioration in the international image of China due to its response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The issue is how to make the two countries’ relations favorable to Japan, the report said.

The institute also noted the possibility that Russia will deploy intermediate-range missiles in its Far Eastern region, including the Russian-held islands at the center of the country’s territorial dispute with Japan, after the expiration of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and Russia last year.

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