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2010年10月 5日 (火)

北朝鮮新体制 挑発への抑止は日米韓連携で

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Oct. 5, 2010)
Stay in step with U.S., ROK to deter N. Korea
北朝鮮新体制 挑発への抑止は日米韓連携で(10月4日付・読売社説)

Despite giving its leadership lineup a face-lift, the North Korean autocracy led by Kim Jong Il has not changed one jot in substance. Japan and other neighboring nations must keep an eagle eye on North Korea's behavior. We must keep our guard up against the secretive country.

The new leadership of the Workers' Party of Korea clearly shows the party congress held last week--the first in 44 years--was aimed at extending the life of the current regime.

The first election in 30 years of members of the party's Central Committee was held, and the committee held a general meeting for the first time in 17 years to elect Politburo and Secretariat members.

The average age of members of the Politburo, the party's supreme organ, is nearly 80. Installing party elders in lofty party positions is intended to make them compete in showing their allegiance to Kim Jong Il, the party's secretary general. This could be a key to stabilizing the regime. Kim also shrewdly installed his right-hand men from his generation in key positions.


Kim Jong Un unveiled

In the days leading up to the Congress, all eyes had been on Kim's third son, Kim Jong Un, who was anointed a general in the Korean People's Army and a vice chairman of the party's Central Military Commission, even though he is just 27.

Awarding Kim Jong Un these posts represents his de facto appointment as Kim Jong Il's successor. Nevertheless, his appointment as a Politburo and Secretariat member was put off. His tender age might be the reason for that.

Details and images of Kim Jong Un had been closely guarded. After his appointments were announced, North Korea made video images of him public for the first time. Kim Jong Un bears a strong resemblance to his late grandfather Kim Il Sung, who has been deified as North Korea's "eternal leader." Kim Jong Il is seeking to rebuild the party and set the stage for the third generation of hereditary succession on the coattails of his father.

As North Korea goes through a period of power transition, there are concerns it could resort to military adventurism to demonstrate Kim Jong Un's presence as a military leader both at home and abroad.


Military provocation feared

A South Korean naval ship was sunk in March, and Seoul has concluded the sinking was caused by a North Korean torpedo.

In the latest personnel reshuffle, Ri Yong Ho, the army chief of staff, marked his extraordinary rise by being named to the Politburo presidium and a vice chairman of the party's Central Military Commission. This suggests North Korea could resort to similar provocations to display its military power.

There is concern that Kim Jong Il's regime, which has been unable to overcome severe economic shortcomings, will instead play to its military strengths, such as by conducting a third nuclear test or test-firing a ballistic missile, to fortify party solidarity and gain leverage in talks with Washington. In fact, a North Korean delegate to the United Nations recently reasserted his country should reinforce its nuclear deterrent.

Japan needs to exchange more information and devise pragmatic measures with the United States and South Korea concerning the future moves of North Korea.

Unity among its neighbors could be the prime deterrent to any North Korean recklessness. Cooperation with Beijing is important, but Japan cannot rely on China right now. The most urgent task is to bolster cooperation between Japan, the United States and South Korea.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 4, 2010)
(2010年10月4日01時03分  読売新聞)


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