As North Korea positions itself for a missile test launch estimated to occur around April 10, neighbors of the recluse nation make preparations against the impending strike and last-minute calls for peace in the Korean peninsula.
According to Japan Daily Press, the Tokyo government has been making plans to shoot down North Korea’s missile or missiles in the event that they threaten the Japanese archipelago. Local Japanese news sources Yomiuri and Jiji News Agency are reporting that Japan’s defense minister, Itsunori Onodera, will be announcing Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) response to the escalating tensions in the Korean peninsula within the next two days. However, Kyodo News reported that an unnamed government authority said that defense plans would not be made public in order to avoid national panic.
Though Japan does not believe it would be a target of an attack, the nation’s proximity to North Korea could prove to be dangerous, leading to the nation’s determination “to be prepared for any contingency.”
South Korea, the North’s primary target in Asia, reacted to Pyongyang’s decision to bar Korean employees from entering Kaesong Industrial Park last week by deploying two ships to monitor possible missile launches in the peninsula. According to South Korean news source Yonhap, last Friday two American-made Aegis-type destroyers, equipped with radar that can detect missile launches, have been sent to both coasts, east and west, to monitor North Korean missile launch activity.
According to Bloomberg News, China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, used condemning words to speak out against the mounting tension and ongoing threats of nuclear strikes while making a speech at the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan.
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“No one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gains,” Xi said in his speech.
“While pursuing its own interests, a country should accommodate the legitimate interests of others.”
While Xi did not explicitly mention North Korea, “it is fair” to interpret his words as directed at Kim Jong Un's regime, Fang Xiuyu, a Korean studies professor at Fudan University in China, said.
China is concerned that a nuclear attack from North Korea and responses coming from the South or U.S. allies could affect Chinese citizens. Three northeastern provinces in China share a border with the recluse nation, making those areas vulnerable to the influx of refugees that would likely result from war on the Korean peninsula.
China, North Korea’s most significant ally and biggest trade partner, has persistently urged for peaceful negotiations between all parties involved to relieve the hysteria surrounding the North’s continuous threats of nuclear attack. While China typically defends the North against sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council with its permanent member-status and veto power, it sided with the United States, signing a resolution for stricter sanctions on the North following its third nuclear test in February.
Though there have been reports that China has also readied its military in preparation for an impending conflict, Xi continues to call for negotiations.
“[We should] turn our global village into a big stage for common development, rather than an arena where gladiators fight each other.”