China may no longer need North Korea as buffer zone – Japanese expert


China may no longer need North Korea as buffer zone – Japanese expert

Economic interdependency may be pushing S. Korea, China together at North's expense

March 27th, 2014

Kosuke Takahashi

A respected Japanese expert on Korean affairs on Wednesday said that China may support the South Korea-led unification of the Korean Peninsula because China no longer needs North Korea as a buffer zone vis-à-vis the U.S.

Hajime Izumi, a professor of international relations at the University of Shizuoka, said China and South Korea have been becoming increasingly close since last year. He said that this has put huge pressure on North Korea and driven Pyongyang to re-enter official talks with Japan.

Izumi said South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s approach to China was quite predictable, but that China’s aggressive engagement of South Korea had been greater than expected.

“I don’t think North Korea had assumed China would go that far, and this change in Chinese attitude is making North Korea very anxious now,” he said.

Izumi was speaking to dozens of overseas journalists at the Foreign Press Center in Tokyo on Wednesday in a speech entitled, “The Outlook for Japan-North Korea Relations.”

“As a countermeasure against closer China-South Korea ties, North Korea is trying to improve its relationship with Japan,” Izumi said of Pyongyang’s recent proactive dialogue toward Tokyo.

Japan and North Korea plan to resume their intergovernmental talks at the director-general level on March 30-31 − the two nations’ first high-level official talks since November 2012. Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Park met in The Hague, the Netherlands, on Sunday on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit. Xi called on South Korea to strengthen bilateral communication and coordination to safeguard their common interests, according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.


Izumi said China’s engagement of South Korea will likely continue for some time and that China might eventually accept South Korea-led reunification of the Korean Peninsula – in other words, the South’s absorption of the North – in the future.

“North Korea would become worried that both China and South Korea are trying to collapse it, and there is a possibility such concern will arise in Pyongyang,” Izumi said. “This will cause North Korea to willingly accept significant concessions with Japan to make relations with Tokyo much closer. This would be necessary for North Korea to survive.”

Behind a shift in China’s attitude toward South Korea is its increasing confidence that a unified Korean Peninsula led by South Korea would not be anti-China, especially considering the two nations’ deepening economic interdependence, Izumi said.

“Previously China had been negative about South Korea-led reunification of the Korean Peninsula, or the South’s absorption of the North, but now this is gradually changing mainly due to China’s stronger confidence,” Izumi said.

Furthermore, Izumi said China also will likely become more confident about the so-called “New Type of Major Power Relationship” with the U.S., without worrying about losing North Korea as its defense and strategic buffer zone vis-à-vis the U.S.

“Under this new type of major power relationship, it’s necessary to have some sort of demarcation and mutual trust between China and the U.S. for them to partner with each other,” Izumi said.

“With China becoming confident about this, there is a possibility China will support South Korea-led unification in the future,” Izumi said.

Asked about North Korea’s firing of two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on Wednesday, Izumi denied widespread views that the launches were a demonstration of defiance in reaction to a summit meeting among the leaders of Japan, the U.S. and South Korea that took place around the same time in the Netherlands.

“North Korea is not such a good guy to send a special gift to us,” Izumi said. “If North Korea launched those missiles consciously thinking about the trilateral summit, they are really a very good guy because the threat of the North is most needed for the three nations to smoothly coordinate trilateral policies.”

Instead, the missile-firing, the latest in a series of test launches in recent months, should be regarded as a continuing warning or wake-up call, mainly for South Korea, which tends to take North Korea’s nuclear program less seriously.

Picture: Kosuke Takahashi
posted by Kosuke at 01:03| Comment(0) | NK News

North Korea fires ballistic missiles into Sea of Japan


North Korea fires ballistic missiles into Sea of Japan

James Hardy, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
Kosuke Takahashi, Tokyo - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
Joseph S Bermudez Jr, Colorado
Daksh Nakra, Bangalore

25 March 2014

North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on 26 March: the latest in a series of test launches.

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that two missiles were launched from the Sukchon region at 02.35 and 02.42 local time respectively. It added that the launches were in violation of "UN Security Council Resolutions [UNSCR] 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013) and 2094 (2013), which prohibit North Korea from all activities related to ballistic missile programmes."

South Korean Ministry of National Defense spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters that based on their speed and range, it was believed they were Rodong (also known as No Dong) missiles, which have a range of between 1,000 and 1,500 km.

IHS Jane's believes the No Dong to be a single-stage, liquid-fuelled missile able to carry conventional, chemical and nuclear warheads from 700 kg to 1200 kg. At a military parade in 2010, at least eight No Dongs were carried on transport-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicles with five axles that appeared to be enlarged versions of the four-axle Hwasong 5 MAZ-543 vehicle, presumably adapted to carry the heavier missiles.

If confirmed the firings would be the first No Dong launches since July 2009.

"This missile is capable of hitting not only most of Japan but also Russia and China," Kim said. "The North is showing off its military capabilities to grab the attention of the international community."

They coincided with the fourth anniversary of the sinking of ROKS Chon An (PCC-772), a Republic of Korea Navy Pohang-class corvette that Seoul and international observers said was attacked by a North Korean torpedo in March 2010 with the loss of 46 lives. The firing also occurred as South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met for the first time in a meeting organised by US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said in the Diet that Tokyo had protested to North Korea via the Japanese Embassy in Beijing. Meanwhile, Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said he had instructed the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to continue gathering information about the launches.

"Should it fly farther in the same direction, it would have reached Japan's mainland," Onodera told reporters. "Even if there was no direct impact this time, it is an incident we should pay particular attention to in terms of Japan's national security."

The launches follow threats of "nuclear measures" by North Korea's deputy ambassador to the United Nations on 24 March. Ri Tong-il told reporters in New York that his country was: "ready to take a series of additional nuclear measures to demonstrate the power of the self-defensive nuclear deterrent," without specifying what these would be.

"I think you can wait and see later," he added before citing ongoing joint US-South Korean military drills as an example of US hostility to Pyongyang.


The No Dong launches follow a series of test firings by the Korean People's Army (KPA) since late February that US and South Korean officials believe to be in protest at the annual 'Key Resolve' and 'Foal Eagle' exercises that are conducted in South Korea.

According to these officials, the North had launched 72 rockets and missiles as of 23 March: 4 KN-09 rockets on 21 February; 4 Scud missiles on 27 February; 2 Scud C missiles on 3 March; 4 KN-09 and three 240 mm rockets on 4 March; 25 FROG-7 rockets on 16 March; and 30 FROG-7s on 23 March.

All the launches were from the east coast: the Scud launches were from the Kittaeryong (Gitdaeryeong) area south of Wonsan and the rocket launches from the Hodo Peninsula immediately east of Wonsan. Both sites have been frequently used by the KPA to test ballistic missiles and rockets.

Of particular interest were the launches of eight 300 mm KN-09 missiles. The March launches are only the second and third time that the KN-09 has been reported to have been test fired: the first was from 17-19 May 2013 when four were launched from the east coast and flew approximately 150 km before landing in the East Sea/Sea of Japan.

Unlike the 26 March No Dong launches, which occurred at night, both the 21 February and 4 March KN-09 launches occurred in the late afternoon (approximately 16.00 hours local), were in an east-northeast direction and impacted in the East Sea/Sea of Japan at a range of approximately 155 km.

Neither the South Korean nor US governments have released details on the KN-09 - all a South Korean MND spokesman would say was that the KN-09 "was developed to strike South Korea's strategic facilities and hinder reinforcement of US forces in a time of war".

What little information that has been released indicates that the KN-09 is a 300 mm (possibly 302 mm) projectile fired from a 12-tube wheeled 6x6 or 8x8 multiple rocket launcher. While it has only been tested to a range of 155 km, it is reported that the KPA is seeking to extend this to 200 km.

While the origins of the KN-09 are unclear, North Korea's Munitions Industry Department, through the Second Economic Committee, has had it under development for at least three years and is responsible for its manufacture. Some sources suggest that the system is derived from the Russian 300 mm BM-30 Smerch, and others from the Chinese WS-1B or its Syrian M-302 derivative - hence the 302 mm diameter. Also not clear as to whether the system is an artillery rocket or missile. One source claims that it is a missile whose guidance system is capable of using the Russian GLONASS GPS system.

The KN-09 appears to be in limited KPA service and still under development. It is unclear whether units equipped with the system are subordinate to either the Artillery Bureau or the Strategic Rocket Forces Command.

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posted by Kosuke at 00:55| Comment(0) | Jane's Defence Weekly

Japan establishes cyber defence unit


Japan establishes cyber defence unit

Kosuke Takahashi, Tokyo- IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

Jon Grevatt, Bangkok - IHS Jane's Defence Industry

25 March 2014

The Japanese Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 26 March launched its cyber defence unit (CDU) to handle cyber attacks against the ministry and the Self-Defence Forces (SDF).

The unit, based at MoD headquarters in central Tokyo, comprises about 90 members from Ground, Maritime, and Air SDF.

The unit is under the defence minister's direct control and subject to the guidance and supervision of the SDF C4SC (command, control, communication, and computers systems command), which is in charge of maintenance and operation of the SDF's Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) system and Central Command System.

Members monitor MoD and SDF computer networks around the clock and respond in the event of a cyber attack.

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posted by Kosuke at 00:31| Comment(0) | Jane's Defence Weekly