In September the U.S. Navy deployed Aegis destroyers in the Sea of Japan as part of setting up an anti-ballistic missile system aimed at north Korea.
The following month, Washington led naval exercises in Japans Tokyo bay dubbed Team Samurai as part of the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), which also included warships from Australia, France, and Japan. Pyongyang is one of the principal targets of the PSI, under which participating governments board ships on the high seas to search them for materials that supposedly could be used in the construction of nuclear weapons.
A law enacted by the Japanese Diet last April and scheduled to take effect March 1, requires all ships over 100 tons to have insurance for oil-spill damage. Previously only tankers were required to have this insurance. The measure clearly targets north Korea, as only 3 percent of its ships that dock in Japanese ports have insurance, far less than Japans other trading partners. The measure would substantially cripple trade with north Koreas third-largest trading partner.
Cash remittances from Koreans in Japan to relatives in north Korea, a valuable source of hard currency for the country, would also be affected by the measure. The Japanese foreign minister threatened February 15 to further restrict remittances by lowering the minimum size of transfers that must be reported to the finance ministry.
As a result of Tokyos stricter enforcement of maritime rules against north Korea in recent years, Japans trade with that country has decreased, the Wall Street Journal reported. According to the Journal, the number of north Korean ships arriving in Japanese ports decreased by 24 percent between 2002 and 2003. The news journal Japan Today said trade between north Korea and Japan is at it lowest point since statistics on trade between the two nations were first released in 1977.
In December, Tokyo also halted food aid to north Korea.
Pyongyang protests aggression
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal November 2, the north Korean ambassador and deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, Han Song Ryol, outlined the points in Washingtons hostile policy toward north Korea that precluded the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) from participating in the six-party negotiations. He noted the U.S. governments labeling of north Korea as part of an axis of evil; economic sanctions against his country; and the passing of the so-called North Korean Human Rights Act in October that bans U.S. aid to north Korea.
Pyongyang wont participate in six-party talks unless it sees real changes in these areas, the north Korean representative said.
On February 10 north Korea announced its would withdraw from the talks indefinitely. The DPRK Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement said, The present deadlock of the six-party talks is attributable to the U.S. hostile policy toward the north Korea. The DPRK had been part of three six-part talks on disarmament with the governments of the United States, Japan, Russia, south Korea, and China, the last of which took place in June 2004.
Tokyo, Washington collaboration
U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld met February 19 in Washington, D.C., with their Japanese counterparts, Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura and Defense Minister Yoshinori Ohno. They discussed their response to Pyongyangs withdrawal from the talks as well as their common strategic objectives in Asia and steps to strengthen their developing military cooperation.
A joint statement by the two governments said north Koreas nuclear and ballistic missile program posed a threat to Japan and to stability in the region, and strongly urged Pyongyang to return to the six-party talks and commit itself to the complete dismantling of all its nuclear programs. Chinese Communist Party official Wang Jiarui traveled to the north Korean capital February 19 to try and convince the north Korean government to return to the negotiations.
Washington is working with Tokyo to set up a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system that will give Washington first-strike nuclear capability in the region. The four U.S. and Japanese officials also issued a statement February 19 that stressed advancing U.S.-Japan cooperative research in BMD systems, with a view to possible cooperative development. In December the Japanese government eased a ban on defense-related exports in place since 1967 known as the Three Principles on Arms Export. The new law allows joint development between Washington and Tokyo on development and production of anti-ballistic missile defense systems and export of arms to the United States and for counter terrorism.
The Department of Defense announced in October an agreement between Washington and the government of south Korea to reduce by 12,500 the U.S. troop presence there, which currently numbers about 37,500. The first reduction took place last August. The 2nd Brigade Combat Team and associated units, totaling 5,000 troops, were pulled out of the U.S. base in downtown Seoul, south Koreas capital, and sent to Iraq. The U.S. base in the center of Seoul is widely resented by the residents of that city. Washington has set a goal of pulling out of areas where the local population resents its troop presence.
The troop reduction is part of a package of measures to strengthen the U.S. rulers military capability in the area, while at the same time freeing up forces to fight in other areas of the world.
A September 24 article from the American Forces Information Service described Washingtons plans for south Korean troops to shoulder more of the military burden, while at the same time increasing the ability of U.S. and south Korean forces to fight together.
The Pentagon is allocating $11 billion toward advanced military technology and new rapid troop deployment capabilities for its forces on the Korean peninsula. These changes are part of the U.S. militarys moves to restructure its forces into smaller, more agile and lethal units. Combined forces modernization programs include more than 340 enhancements to strengthen deterrence [against north Korea], the article said.
Washington, Tokyo: defense of Taiwan common objective
U.S. govt warns of Beijings military strength, presses EU powers on China arms embargo
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home