NORTH KOREA THREAT­ENS TO SINK JA­PAN

While Kim seeks to turn US into ‘ashes and dark­ness’ over sanc­tions, Ja­pan gov­ern­ment calls lat­est threat ‘ex­tremely provoca­tive’

Financial Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - ANDY SHARP

North Korea threat­ened to use a nu­clear weapon against Ja­pan and turn the US into “ashes and dark­ness” for pass­ing fresh UN sanc­tions.

NORTH Korea threat­ened to use a nu­clear weapon against Ja­pan and turn the US into “ashes and dark­ness” for pass­ing fresh United Na­tions sanc­tions ear­lier this week – fiery rhetoric that is likely to ex­ac­er­bate ten­sions in North Asia.

“Ja­pan is no longer needed to ex­ist near us,” the state-run Korean Cen­tral News Agency said on Thurs­day, cit­ing a state­ment by the Korea Asia-Pa­cific Peace Com­mit­tee. “The four is­lands of the ar­chi­pel­ago should be sunken into the sea by the nu­clear bomb of Juche,” it said, a ref­er­ence to the regime’s ide­ol­ogy of self-re­liance.

Ja­panese Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga called the com­ments, which sent the Korean won lower, “ex­tremely provoca­tive.”

“If North Korea stays the course that it is on, it will in­creas­ingly be­come iso­lated from the world,” Suga told re­porters on Thurs­day in Tokyo. “Through im­ple­ment­ing the new United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion and re­lated agree­ments, the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity as a whole needs to max­imise pres­sure on North Korea so that it will change its pol­icy.”

The lat­est UN sanc­tions fol­low North Korea’s sixth and most pow­er­ful nu­clear test ear­lier this month. In late Au­gust, the regime launched a bal­lis­tic mis­sile over north­ern Ja­pan in what it said was “mus­cle­flex­ing” to protest an­nual mil­i­tary drills be­tween the US and South Korea. Leader Kim Jong Un called it a “mean­ing­ful pre­lude” to con­tain­ing Guam. North Korea pre­vi­ously threat­ened to launch rock­ets over Ja­pan into the Pa­cific and to­ward the US ter­ri­tory.

“A telling blow should be dealt to them who have not yet come to senses af­ter the launch of our ICBM over the Ja­panese ar­chi­pel­ago,” a spokesman for the Korea Asia-Pa­cific Peace Com­mit­tee said in Thurs­day’s KCNA state­ment. The com­mit­tee is an af­fil­i­ate of the rul­ing Work­ers’ Party.

KCNA had pre­vi­ously de­scribed the rocket as an in­ter­me­di­at­erange strate­gic bal­lis­tic mis­sile. Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe con­demned the launch at the time, while US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­it­er­ated that “all op­tions” were un­der con­sid­er­a­tion in re­spond­ing to North Korea’s provo­ca­tions.

The re­marks about Ja­pan came sand­wiched be­tween threats against the US and South Korea.

“Now is the time to an­ni­hi­late the US im­pe­ri­al­ist ag­gres­sors,” the state­ment on KCNA said. “Let’s vent our spite with mo­bil­i­sa­tion of all re­tal­i­a­tion means which have been pre­pared till now.”

The re­port said the South Korean "pup­pet forces are traitors and dogs of the US as they call for harsher ‘sanc­tions’ on the fel­low coun­try­men, adding that the "group of proAmer­i­can traitors should be se­verely pun­ished and wiped out with fire at­tack so that they could no longer sur­vive.” Still, South Korea’s Uni­fi­ca­tion Min­istry is con­sid­er­ing pro­vid­ing $8 mil­lion in hu­man­i­tar­ian aid to North Korea through in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions such as UNICEF, Yon­hap News re­ported Thurs­day, cit­ing the min­istry.

If the aid is ap­proved by the gov­ern­ment it’d be the first time in two years that Seoul has pro­vided such as­sis­tance to its north­ern neigh­bor. In 2015, the min­istry sent 11.7 bil­lion won ($10.3 mil­lion) through in­ter­na­tional bod­ies.

When South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in came into power in May he promised a new era of en­gage­ment with North Korea. But he’s turned more hawk­ish in re­cent weeks, seek­ing stronger war­heads on bal­lis­tic mis­siles, step­ping up mil­i­tary drills, and em­brac­ing a mis­sile de­fense sys­tem he’d ques­tioned.

Py­ongyang Trip

The threat to Ja­pan comes a day af­ter a law­maker said some mem­bers of the rul­ing Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party were con­sid­er­ing vis­it­ing Py­ongyang for talks with North Korean lead­ers.

“In the LDP there are some peo­ple seek­ing di­a­logue,” in­de­pen­dent law­maker An­to­nio Inoki told re­porters in Tokyo fol­low­ing a trip to the North Korean cap­i­tal. “There’s a change in at­mos­phere at the mo­ment” about the need for talks rather than pres­sure, he said.

The gov­ern­ment in Tokyo had crit­i­cised Inoki’s visit, with Suga say­ing be­fore­hand that all trips to North Korea by Ja­panese cit­i­zens are dis­cour­aged.

Abe has stressed the need for pres­sure on Kim via sanc­tions, as op­posed to talks. He told the Nikkei news­pa­per this week that Ja­pan was in agree­ment with the US and South Korea that di­a­logue would only be pos­si­ble when North Korea com­mit­ted to com­plete and ver­i­fi­able de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion.

The threat to Ja­pan comes a day af­ter a law­maker said some mem­bers of the rul­ing Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party were con­sid­er­ing vis­it­ing Py­ongyang for talks with North Korean lead­ers

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with sci­en­tist at an undis­closed lo­ca­tion

Ac­tivists wear masks of Donal Trump Kim Jon-un while pos­ing with a mock mis­sile in front of the em­bassy of DPR Korea in Ber­lin on Septem­ber 13, 2017

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