Real Clear Politics on the effect of the DPRK’s missile diplomacy:
The July 4th launches were seen as a message to the United States, another effort to boost Kim Jong Il’s international prestige and angle for attention and aid. But the chances that North Korea will credibly threaten the United States in the foreseeable future are remote. Japan is demonstrably already in range, and Japan’s government is in no mood to play games with Kim.
Japanese officials said Monday they believe negotiations may not be the answer to the Korean problem.
Note how different this reaction to the potential North Korean threat differs from Europe’s reaction to the potential Iranian threat.
In neither case it isn’t the US that is directly threatened but a territory long protected by the US military. Japan is willing to talk, but they know that talk with nothing backing it up is worthless.
Japan’s military, particularly its navy, has been ramping up over the past decade or so. The Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force currently has four Kongo-class AEGIS destroyers, with two more currently under construction. One of the current ships, the Kirishima, is being upgraded to Ballistic Missile Defense Block 2004 capability by Lockheed. This is the same technology the US Navy has used quite successfully in anti-missile tests already, but the conversion isn’t scheduled to be completed until November 2007.
The AEGIS upgrade is just part of the recent agreement to work together on missile defense between the US and Japan. Other items of note include the US basing of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 defensive missiles on US bases in Okinawa, Japanese basing of additional PAC-3 missile batteries on Japan proper, the purchase of additional Standard missiles for the Japanese destroyers, and the activation of a US X-Band radar in northern Japan.
The Japanese military would be very hard-pressed to do more than launch a few pin-prick strikes against DPRK missile targets if it decides to go on the offensive, but it’s surprising how much more weight your words carry when you have a stick to back them up with.
Old Europe?!? Is anyone paying attention? (‘Dawn Over Tokyo’ link via Instapundit)