A spokesperson of the North Korean Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Tuesday belittling Japan’s announcement of a new National Security Strategy – including Tokyo’s willingness to possess counterstrike capabilities.
“Japan has, in fact, adopted a new security strategy formulating the possession of the capability for preemptive attack on other countries, thus bringing a serious security crisis to the Korean Peninsula and East Asia,” Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the North’s main state-controlled media, quoted the spokesperson as saying.
In contrast to support from the United States, the powerful ally of South Korea and Japan in the region, neighboring countries have not welcomed Tokyo’s announcement due to their historical conflicts with Japan. Along with its bold plans to double down in strengthening defense capabilities, Japan also touched on sensitive territorial disputes by defining Dokdo Island (known in Japanese as Takeshima) as its territory in the new documents, triggering strong complaints from South Korea.
Beijing also expressed its dissatisfaction over Japan’s new security strategy, which labeled China as “the greatest strategic challenge.” It also warned that Tokyo’s moves could provoke regional tension and confrontation.
Considering Japan’s history of war crimes during World War II, the new security strategy triggered alarm in its neighbors, especially the two Koreas, which were forcefully and unlawfully integrated into Japan from 1915 to 1945. Even before the annexation, Japan repeatedly invaded the Korean Peninsula in a bid to increase its leverage and power toward China and Russia.
“Japan is a war criminal state which inflicted untold misfortune and sufferings upon the Korean people in the past and has not yet honestly liquidated its past crimes, and it has been branded as an enemy state in the U.N. Charter. It will never be welcomed that such country has openly revealed its dangerous scheme,” the North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, adding that the security environment in the region “has undergone a radical change.”
Unlike Germany, Japan has not taken full responsibility for the atrocities committed by its military. Its inconsistent stance has caused historical disputes with neighbors China and South Korea as well as North Korea.
Criticizing the U.S. moves to support Japan’s build-up, the North Korean spokesperson reiterated his country’s fundamental stance on security issues.
“The so-called ‘counterattack capability’ advocated by Japan has nothing to do with the possession of the legitimate right to self-defense by a sovereign state, and it is the preemptive attack capability to strike other countries’ territory from A to Z,” the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.
“The foolish act of Japan seeking to gratify its black-hearted intention, arms buildup for reinvasion, under the pretext of the DPRK’s legitimate exercise of the right to self-defense can never be justified and tolerated,” the spokesperson warned. (DPRK is the abbreviation of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.) “We will continue to show in practice how much the DPRK is concerned and displeased with Japan’s unreasonable and greedy attempt to realize its wild ambition.”
With Japan’s stated ambition to possess “counterstrike capabilities,” there is a possibility of Japan exploiting this clause to take bolder action against North Korea. Several previous North Korean missile tests – including one in October 2022 – since missiles flying over Japanese territory. In the future, Tokyo may interpret such missile flights as an attack and exercise its right to self-defense against Pyongyang under the new security strategy. Although the Korean Peninsula is the territory of South Korea under the South’s constitutional law, Tokyo has clearly stated that it does not need to warn Seoul should it take military action against Pyongyang.
Hinting that it will keep showing its belligerent stance over “Japan’s unreasonable and greedy attempt,” the spokesperson said that North Korea “has the right to take a resolute and decisive military step to defend its national sovereignty, territorial and fundamental interests in the light of the complexity of the regional security environment caused by Japan’s action.”