North Korea is often described as having the fourth largest military on the planet. That’s quite an accomplishment for a country of 24 million but the numbers are achieved at the expense of quality and sustainability. The 950,000 personnel in the active military are four percent of the population. When you include reservists who can be called to service in wartime, over 25 percent of the population gets involved. That means the economy, as shabby as it is, pretty much shuts down until the war is over. Fortunately, that won’t take long. Since North Korea has drawn on its war reserves of food and fuel over the last decade (because of bad harvests and little cash to buy oil), it’s likely that North Korea would be out of fuel for military operations after about a month and food shortages for the entire population would quickly become catastrophic. That’s because the military takes over much of the vehicle transport in wartime and enemy air attacks would cripple the railroads. Without transportation, food cannot be moved to areas that don’t produce much of it. North Korea are in a very difficult situation domestically because of the growing famine. They have a real shortage of food.
Experts commissioned by the operator of a Japanese nuclear plant that faces possible closure because of a suspected active seismic fault say a decision should wait, citing insufficient data. Operator Japan Atomic Power Co. disputes that view. The decision is being closely watched as the pro-nuclear government moves to restart plants suspended since the Fukushima nuclear crisis. The plant’s owners plan to appeal the regulators’ decision. Still, the development comes as a number of other plants are awaiting determination whether their sites contain active faults. The decision could also be viewed as a setback for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, which took office in December. Mr. Abe’s administration effectively wants to reverse a decision to eventually phase out nuclear power, a move taken by the previous government that was in office during the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident. For the company, which is jointly owned by Japan’s major utilities, the closure of the Tsuruga plant would eliminate its only source of revenue and pose large-scale costs for a permanent decommissioning of the facility.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe likened the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which houses the remains of Japan’s war dead including convicted World War II criminals, with the Arlington National Cemetery in the US. 14 convicted World War II criminals are enshrined in Yasukuni. Suppose the Germans had decided to enshrine Nazi war criminals at an altar in the middle of their capital and the chancellor, Cabinet and lawmakers paid homage there every year. The EU would not exist, and Germany would have faced global condemnation and isolation. Japan’s war criminals are no different than Nazi war criminals. Comparing Yasukuni with the Arlington National Cemetery is simply absurd. Japanese politicians are trying to win votes for parliamentary elections in July by appealing to populist, rightwing sentiment with their attempts to whitewash the unimaginable atrocities and slaughter of tens of millions of people in neighboring countries committed by Japanese troops during World War II. Nobody dares to counter that dangerous lurch to the right, in which Abe is a leading figure. That is why the country cannot be allowed to revise its pacifist constitution and arm itself again.
Is China seeking regime-change in North Korea?
The sudden reduction in aggressive rhetoric and actions by North Korea has led to suggestions that Pyongyang has realized it has pushed its only ally in the region to the brink of severing its friendship. Intelligence sources have stated that Beijing has a contingency plan in place for when Kim Jong-un’s control over the country crumbles. The reports confirm that China is indeed quietly encouraging regime change and is grooming Kim’s brother, Kim Jong-nam to take over his role. The reports suggest that after Kim Jong-nam is installed in Pyongyang, his brother will be permitted to go into exile, probably in China. China may be dreaming of appointing Kim Jong-nam as the new king. The atmosphere between the two nations is changing. China may have decided that it is time for a regime-change in the North, they will not permit the collapse of the country because they do not want chaos on their own borders.
Remarks by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto on Japan’s wartime military sex slave system have once again raised serious questions about his nationalistic views and his understanding of human rights. Hashimoto claimed that the sex slave system was necessary to maintain discipline in the Imperial Japanese armed forces and stressed that there was no proof that the Japanese state kidnapped women and forced them to become sex slaves. This statement flies in the face of the indisputable fact that the most fundamental human rights of tens of thousands of Asian women were violated by the Japanese military. His “logic” is that frontline soldiers and young servicemen stationed abroad need women’s sexual services for rest and relaxation so discipline can be maintained. He clearly believes that the war effort justified the subjugation of women as sex slaves. This view of women being first and foremost sex objects for men not only rubs salt in the wounds of former sex slaves but is an insult to the dignity of all women. Japan should realize that their nationalistic agenda and moves to weaken constitutional democracy will only serve to undermine international trust in Japan and inflame regional tensions.
Bae, a US citizen of Korean descent, was arrested for attempting to overthrow the state. He entered the “special” prison on Tuesday. A statement from North Korea accused Bae of giving anti-Pyongyang lectures in China and having infiltrated about 250 students into the city of Rason, in north-eastern North Korea. Pyongyang claims that Bae has confessed, and did not want a lawyer present during sentencing. Bae is reported by friends to have worked as a Christian missionary in Dalian, a Chinese city near North Korean, and to have crossed the border to distribute food to orphans. He is alleged to have distributed inflammatory literature. Christianity is banned by the North Korean state, and the circulation of Bibles is strictly punished.
Because North Korea shutdown the Kaesong Industrial Complex, South Korean investors lost a lot of money. However, North Korea also received a lot of damages. One of the risks North Korea face now in withdrawing everybody is the 50,000 people who left their jobs two weeks ago are very unhappy. The North Korean workers have become used to a discipline of having a good job, going to work every day, getting a nice lunch and health services, and Chocopies which you can sell in the market for some extra money. By denying these people those benefits and their current lifestyle, I can’t imagine they would be happy. The change in mindset of the people in Pyongyang becoming more engaged in market trading and market economies, and making money from entrepreneurship has become a threat to the regime’s longer-term interests. North Korea must have shutdown Kaesong in order to prevent the “ideological contamination” to continue.
In their search for justice that has endured for decades, the biggest challenge Nazi hunters face is time. The knowledge that war criminals are escaping prosecution through death by natural causes means their task has never been more pressing. German state police arrested a 93-year-old man accused of being a guard at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Hans Lipschis is the first suspect to be facing charges as part of a drive launched earlier this year to track down 50 suspected Auschwitz guards who are believed to be living in Germany. Most of those involved in the murder of about 6 million Jews in the Holocaust and still alive will now be in their 90s, a ripe old age for people who carried out one the most heinous crimes in the history of humanity. This is very different from Japan. Japan is restoring the use of the Rising Sun Flag, a symbolism of invasions by Imperial Japanese Army. This is basically the equivalent of Germans using the Nazi Germany Flag. This is proof that Japan still craves the desire for the failed Japanese imperialism. It’s almost as if Japan is reenact the past invasions anytime soon. We can see Japan’s fascism from their arguments that Korea’s Dokdo is Japanese territory.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye and US President Barack Obama agreed never to tolerate North Korean threats and provocations, stressing that such bad behavior will only deepen Pyongyang’s own isolation. Park made the remarks during a joint news conference after her first summit talks with Obama since taking office in February. The meeting came as the North has shown signs of softening its war rhetoric after threatening nuclear attacks against the South and the US for weeks. Seoul and Washington will work jointly to encourage North Korea to make the right choice through multifaceted efforts, including the implementation of the “Korean Peninsula trust process.” Park and Obama also discussed a need to forge multinational approach to bring peace and stability in the region, such as through Park’s proposal to establish the Northeast Asia initiative similar to the Helsinki process of Europe in the 1970s. Dubbed the “Northeast Asia peace and cooperation initiative,” the plan calls for Asian nations to enhance cooperation, first on nonpolitical issues such as climate change and counterterrorism, before expanding the trust that was built through such cooperation to other areas.
A Conscientious voice in Japan
Despite Japan’s recent efforts to distort history and deny the sexual slavery of comfort women, there are conscientious voice in Japan opposing these efforts. At a church in the Fukushima prefecture, there is a comfort women statue. This is a replica of the one located in front of the Japanese embassy in Korea. Muto Kiyoshi, the pastor of this church, learned about the comfort women and felt that Japan should repent for their past crimes. When Abe explicitly denied the sexual enslavement of the comfort women, Muto Kiyoshi could no longer stand by. I hope to see more conscientious voice in Japan.