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2013年12月12日 (木)

北朝鮮No.2粛清 金正恩体制揺るがす権力闘争

The Yomiuri Shimbun December 10, 2013
Vigilance required as power struggle shakes Kim Jong Un regime
北朝鮮No.2粛清 金正恩体制揺るがす権力闘争(12月10日付・読売社説)

The latest development in North Korea probably was the result of a power struggle behind the scenes.

A close watch must be kept on how the latest housecleaning in North Korea will affect the future course of the reclusive country, which will soon mark the second anniversary of the death of former supreme leader Kim Jong Il.

In North Korea, Jang Song Thaek, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission and an apparent mentor for the current leader Kim Jong Un, has been ousted from all his posts.

Jang was a member of the ruling Workers’ Party Politburo—together with Kim Kyong Hui, Jang’s wife and a sister of Kim Jong Il—and made his presence felt as the No. 2 man in the young Kim’s regime.

Jang had also been in the vanguard of Pyongyang’s economic diplomacy. Last summer, for instance, he visited China and proposed to leaders there, including then President Hu Jintao, the joint development of trade zones in North Korea near its border with China.

At an expanded meeting of the Politburo on Sunday, Jang was denounced as a leader of “antiparty, antirevolutionary factional activities,” dismissed from all his posts, deprived of all his titles and expelled from the party. North Korean TV broadcast an image of Jang being taken from the meeting venue by uniformed guards.

Jang was charged with such criminal acts as having immensely hindered the improvement of the country’s economic activity and people’s livelihoods, and committing treason by cheaply selling off the country’s precious resources. He was also accused of corrupt and illicit behavior, including improper relations with women, using narcotics and squandering foreign currency.

Jang shown no mercy

The purge of a high-ranking government official is not rare in a country under despotic rule, but the harshness of the punishments in Jang’s case is striking. Two of his close aides were reportedly publicly executed.

Kim Jong Un may have felt it was necessary to show no leniency even to a relative over disobedience to his orders and illicit enrichment. The latest purge may reflect Kim’s sense of alarm over the rife corruption among North Korea’s leaders.

In accordance with Kim’s grand command to build a strong and prosperous nation, organs related to the North Korean Cabinet, the party and military are competing with each other to take credit for earning foreign currency by developing mining resources and wooing foreign investment.

As long as North Korea continues pursuing nuclear weapons development and economic construction in parallel, there is no way the international community will ease its sanctions on the country.

If North Korea is serious about pursuing honest economic activity, the only option is to abandon its nuclear and missile development.

With the abrupt downfall of Jang, Choe Ryong Hae, director of the Korean People’s Army General Political Bureau, who was seen as a rival of Jang, will gain more clout.

Some observers in Japan had held expectations that Jang could be a go-between with direct ties to Kim over the issue of Japanese abducted by North Korean agents. Now that Jang has been ousted, it is essential that Japan carefully analyze the internal situation in North Korea.

There are fears the Kim regime may resort to such acts as a nuclear test to deflect and suppress unrest within the country. Japan must remain vigilant.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 10, 2013)
(2013年12月10日01時45分  読売新聞)


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