Emboldened North Korea pushes neighbors to seek self-defense
South Korea joined a US-led program to block shipments of nuclear material. In Japan, a lawmaker urged first-strike capability.
As North Korea further ratcheted up tensions in Asia Tuesday, launching two more test missiles a day after exploding a nuclear device, its neighbors cast around for ways of reining in Pyongyang that might put a halt to its nuclear ambitions.
Mostly, they came up only with words. But some of those words were unusually belligerent, raising fears of a regional arms race as countries such as Japan and South Korea ponder how to reduce their vulnerability.
"Our country should have the capability to attack missile-launch bases to prevent any launch," Gen Nakatani, a former defense minister and a lawmaker in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told reporters, arguing that North Korea's actions meant that Tokyo should build a controversial first-strike capability. These views have become increasingly popular among members of the LDP.
"It may be premature to talk like this," says Han Suk-hee, a professor of international relations at Yonsei University in Seoul. "But the political mood is already swinging that way."
Page 1 of 4