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Preemptive Strike Talk Riles Korea

Posted July. 12, 2006 03:00,   


Regarding the Japanese politicians’ mentioning of the possibility of a pre-emptive attack on the North’s missile base, Cheong Wa Dae yesterday mounted a frontal attack on the statement, saying, “Japan’s referring to the attack shows its aggressive proclivity, which we have to be deeply vigilant on,” heightening tensions between the two countries.

As Korea and Japan, which should show a unified move, are at odds with each other in response to the North’s missile launching, the antipathy between the two sides will significantly affect the cooperation over the six-party talks on the North’s nuclear weapons program as well as the countermeasure to the missile launching.

Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Chung Tae-ho relayed Cheong Wa Dae statement, “The fact that a series of Japanese politicians are speaking of the likelihood of pre-emptive actions on the Korean peninsula and justifying the use of armed forces is very grave itself” at the meeting under the presidency of Chief of Staff Lee Byung-wan.

Cheong Wa Dae further warned, “We will firmly deal with the arrogance and unreasonable speech by Japanese politicians, which are aimed at further increasing crisis on the Korean peninsula on the ground of North Korea’s missile firing using dangerous and provocative words such as ‘pre-emptive attacks’ and justifying the rationale to expand its military forces.”

As President Roh Moo-hyun was briefed on the outcome of the discussion at the end of the meeting, Cheong Wa Dae’s stated hard line attitude seems to have President Roh’s stance.

Prior to this, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe raised the possibility of Japan’s pre-emptive actions at a press conference on July 10, saying, “Attacking the North’s missile base needs to be further discussed since it is within the range of the constitution’s self-defense right.”

Concerning the Cheong Wa Dae’s strong policy over Japan, Abe said, “I know what it said, but I won’t comment on everything.”

However, there is some criticism at home that Japan’s unreasonable reaction came because the government failed to promptly respond to the North’s missile launching and to strengthen cooperation with the U.S. and Japan.

Meanwhile, China said that it delivered its deep concern over the current situation caused by the North’s missile tests through China’s chief six-party negotiator Wu Dawei, who is in North Korea.

Yeon-Wook Jung jyw11@donga.com sya@donga.com