Monday, April 06, 2009

Now Everyone Calm Down

The North Korean rocket, even with the full kick from the Earth's rotation, did not fly in the promised path, its pieces crashlanding in the ocean hundreds of kilometers away from and short of the stay-clear zones. Its payload failed achieve orbit--something the Iranians, with a much younger rocket program, managed to do.

(This should not be construed to be a knock on Iran's achievement. Rocket science is hard.)

The Taepodong does not represent much of an improvement in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's strategic or economic positions. "You do as I say, or else I might target the Diet Building, possibly hitting Niigata or Utsunomiya," prompts a smile, not fear. The incredible inaccuracy demonstrated undermines the sales pitch ("Target Tel Aviv and you might hit Damascus! Hey, come back!")

Somehow all the buildup and brouhaha about the rocket's potential reach and destructive power, the rather pedestrian point of North Korea's having hundreds of thousands of its citizens already on Japanese soil, capable of wreaking havoc if ordered, seems to have been forgotten. If actually hurting citizens of Japan or destroying the Japanese government were ever a goal, why would a rocket be necessary? In 1995, a small band of ideologically-driven crazies was able to kill 12, maim hundreds and shut down the main arteries of transportation at the vital center of Japan's capital. Imagine what a few hundred North Korean agents could do. That the North Koreans have heretofore not made use of this immense tactical advantage indicates that North Korea's government and leaders are not really in the "let's destroy Japan" business in a serious way.


Durf said...

Some years ago I was approached about possibly translating this book into English. It focused on the threat of agents already in Japan, as you note; it also looked at the cyber warfare threat, again coming from agents already located in the country, and the even bigger threat of small attack squads that could do serious damage to all the nuclear power plants arranged handily along the Japan Sea coast thanks to the NIMBY attitudes of the heavily populated Pacific coast regions.

An atomic warhead is a scary thought, and perhaps especially scary to this nation, but it isn't the real threat that Pyongyang poses, particularly given the accuracy of its delivery tech.

TheStrawMan said...

I've always wondered why North Korea went to all the trouble and expense of kidnapping Japanese citizens, in order to force them to teach Japanese language and customs to its spies, so they could travel to Japan, and around the world, pretending to be Japanese.

Why didn't they make use of the Zainichi Kankoku/Chosenjin who are loyal to the North, but who were born and raised in, and are for all intents and purposes, Japanese?

That they didn't, makes me think that the NK regime, for whatever reason, does not trust the Zainichi community as a potential source for agents, therefore I think it unlikely that they would make use of said community for subversive activities in any large-scale fashion.