Rocket man returns

Kim Jong-Un has warned that the missiles fired by North Korea are designed to cause “inescapable distress to a fat target.”

There have been six weapons tests recently, causing great concern in Japan, where people receive warnings instantly, via their mobile phones.

The BBC’s Seoul correspondent Laura Bicker observed that the weapons are becoming more dangerous.

“North Korea has test fired three new weapons and these missiles are fast, fly low and at least one of them can manoeuvre mid-air, which would pose a real challenge to missile defence systems,” she said.

“North Korean rockets pose a real challenge to missile defence systems” -BBC

The cost of conflict

The latest incident came just after Japan commemorated the anniversary of the end of the Second World War – an event which is primarily used to consider the human cost of conflict.

In the past, some people have used the day to push a nationalist agenda but this year, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was careful to keep it low key.

He did not pay a visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, where the war dead are commemorated, but sent a ritual offering instead. Prime Ministerial visits to the shrine are usually condemned by the governments of South Korea and China because they stir memories of occupation and conflict.

Yasukuni in perspective

An American called Jason Morgan from Reitaku University gave his perspective on the Yasukuni shrine for Japan Forward. He said that “people here come to pray for peace and for the souls of the men and women and even of the animals who died in the 15 years of hard fighting across East Asia, Southeast Asia, Alaska and the Pacific.”

He went on to say that: “People born in Japan, in China, in Taiwan, on the Korean Peninsula and in countries beyond the reach of the Japanese Empire – all who lost their lives in the wars that Japan has fought over the past 150 years – are remembered here, their souls ingathered and given rest.”

Anger and division

This year the contemplative mood was shattered by the North Korean missiles.

Even though it was the Japanese islands which were placed at risk, the missile firings also expressed North Korea’s anger at South Korea.

The South conducts military exercises alongside the United States and the North views these as a rehearsal for invasion. It says it is “senseless” to resume peace talks while the drills continue.

Reunification pledge

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in delivered a speech last week in which he declared that the peninsula could be reunified by 2045, a century after Japan’s defeat.

Although the North also says it seeks reunification, it balks at any suggestion it would become subservient to the South or its ally, the United States.

A North Korean spokesman said: “We have nothing more to talk about with the South Korean authorities, nor do we have any plans to sit with them again.”

June Park, an economist at George Mason University Korea, told the Financial Times that there “no guarantees’ the two Koreas would be united within 26 years.

“We are at a critical crossroads of geopolitical shifts, but Moon is no prophet,” she said.