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2014年4月12日 (土)

(社説)金正恩体制 経済再建に専念せよ

April 11, 2014
EDITORIAL: North Korea's Kim should focus on economic reconstruction
(社説)金正恩体制 経済再建に専念せよ

North Korea can never hope to rebuild the dilapidated nation without abandoning its nuclear and missile programs. Can’t it face up to this reality?

Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s supreme leader, doesn’t appear to have any serious intention to improve the disastrous state of the country.

The Supreme People’s Assembly, the country’s parliament, was convened on April 9 in Pyongyang. As the assembly’s members were newly chosen in March in the first parliamentary election since Kim became leader, observers paid close attention to the session, expecting it to offer signals about the direction in which the new regime intends to lead the nation.

As it turned out, however, the assembly session left little doubt that the country’s leadership has decided to maintain mostly the status quo. Especially notable about the reported results of the session is the regime’s strong will to pursue both the development of nuclear weapons and economic reconstruction at the same time.

Jang Song Thaek, Kim’s uncle, who was widely viewed as the leading champion of economic reform, was purged and executed last December. There were speculations that the removal of Jang could affect the regime’s stance toward reform.

Given that Premier Pak Pong Ju, another presumably pro-reform figure within the leadership, was reappointed, however, North Korea’s secluded regime apparently intends to maintain its policy of putting a high priority on the improvement of people’s living standards.

Observers also pointed out the possibility that 86-year-old Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the second most powerful man in the country, could retire due to his advanced age. But he has also retained his post.

Some close aides to Kim Jong Un, including Choe Ryong Hae, director of the General Political Bureau of the military, were promoted to senior posts in the National Defense Commission.

All these personnel decisions indicate that the North Korean leadership has no intention to change the nation’s power structure in any drastic way. These moves as a whole probably represent the regime’s attempt to prevent the purge of Jang from provoking unrest in the nation.

What is troubling is the creation of the Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry. The new ministry is reportedly an upgrade of North Korea’s General Department of Atomic Energy. The move has made clear Pyongyang’s will to keep developing nuclear arms.

On March 26, North Korea fired two ballistic missiles that are believed to have been mid-range Rodong projectiles into the Sea of Japan.

After the U.N. Security Council issued a statement to the media condemning the missile launch, Pyongyang reacted with a threat to conduct what it called a new form of nuclear test.

Speculation is rife that this new type of nuclear test may involve the use of highly enriched uranium.

North Korea may be threatening to demonstrate anew its nuclear capabilities by showing off what it has achieved in the uranium enrichment program it has been secretly pursuing instead of using plutonium extracted from an experimental nuclear reactor.

There are not yet any concrete signs that North Korea is about to conduct a nuclear test, but the North Korean regime should be aware that it would cause its own collapse should it proceed with such a test.

The international community is already severely critical of the regime of Kim Jong Un. China, the largest supplier of aid to North Korea, is no exception. Pyongyang would be well-advised to avoid committing any more acts that would only deepen its international isolation.

What the young leader should do is to wean the nation from the diplomatic brinkmanship to which his father, the late Kim Jong Il, resorted all too often. The impoverished nation cannot afford to pursue a dual-track policy of military buildup and economic rehabilitation.

The young Kim should focus his efforts on leading the nation out of its international isolation and putting its economy on a path toward regeneration.

--The Asahi Shimbun, April 11


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