The 2015 defense white paper, compiled by the Japanese Ministry of Defense titled “Defense of Japan 2015,” highlights Tokyo’s growing concern over the radicalization of North Korea’s military in the face of Kim Jong-un’s personnel politics, including the dismissal of a number of senior military officers and the execution of Vice-Chairman Jang Song-thaek.
“This in turn could propel North Korea to turn to military provocative actions without making sufficient diplomatic considerations. Accordingly, uncertainty is deemed to be rising,” the paper reads. The execution of Jang Song-thaek, in particular, has been seen as victory for North Korean military hardliners and advocates of the continuation of the country’s “military first” policy.
Looking at North Korea’s ballistic missile program, the white paper emphasizes that Pyongyang – heavily investing into research and development as well as increasing its general operational capabilities – is progressively more capable of surprise launches, which as a corollary increases the overall missile threat for Japan. “North Korea’s ballistic missile issue has become more realistic and imminent for Northeast Asia, including Japan, and for the international community from the perspective of both the improvement of the capability and transfer and proliferation, and such developments are profoundly worrisome,” the publication notes.
The report is adamant that Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons development “poses a grave threat to Japan’s security and significantly impairs peace and stability in Northeast Asia and the international community. Therefore, they can never be tolerated.” However, the paper does not elaborate what specific policies Japan’s non-toleration of North Korea’s nuclear weapons would entail. The paper just calls for a close monitoring of all related developments in this field…