On Tuesday, December 20, 2022, North Korea threatened to take “bold and decisive military steps” against Japan as it condemned Japan’s adoption of a national security strategy as an attempt to turn the country into an aggressive military power.
North Korea’s statement came four days after Japan publicized a security strategy that reflects its determination to possess “counterstrike” capability and double its military spending to gain a more offensive foothold against threats from China and North Korea.
In a significant break from its strictly self-defense-only postwar principle, Japan embraced a national security strategy on Friday, December 16, 2022, declaring plans to possess preemptive strike capability and cruise missiles.
Under the strategy, Japan’s defense spending through 2027 will increase to about 2% of Japan’s Gross Domestic Product to total some 43 trillion yen ($320 billion), 1.6-times that of the current five-year total.
The North’s Foreign Ministry disclosed in a statement that Japan’s agenda to acquire counterstrike capability has nothing to do with self-defense but is a clear attempt to acquire “pre-emptive attack capability meant to launch strikes on other countries’ territories.”
The statement accused the United States of supporting and promoting the Japanese military ambitions and undermining regional peace.
The statement added that such alleged U.S. moves are compelling North Korea to work hard to complete its plans to develop new strategic weapons to destroy enemy attempts to invade the country.
Also, it was noted in the statement that, North Korea wants to ensure that it can take “bold and decisive military steps” to safeguard its sovereignty and national interests in the wake of the complexity of regional security caused by the Japanese security strategy.
“Our country will continue to take actions to show how much we are concerned and displeased with Japan’s unjust, greedy attempt to realize its ambitions,” the statement said.
North Korea Harbours Anti-Japanese Sentiments
Like in some other Asian countries, anti-Japanese sentiments still run deep in North Korea because of Japan’s wartime atrocities.
The Korean Peninsula was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945 before it was divided into a capitalistic, U.S.-backed South Korea and a socialist, Soviet-supported North Korea at the end of the World War II in 1945.
North Korea’s state media routinely criticize Japanese colonial wrongdoing. Its statement also said that Japan inflicted “unmeasurable misery and pains on Korean people” during the colonial rule.
North Korea’s quest of nuclear-tipped missiles is a major security concern for Japan as they are capable of reaching Japan as well as South Korea and the mainland U.S.
In October, North Korea fired an intermediate-range missile over Japan, forcing Tokyo to issue evacuation alerts and halt trains.
The Japanese strategy names China as “the biggest strategic challenge” before North Korea and Russia to Japan’s efforts to ensure peace, safety and stability.