News / Asia

Japan Preparing 'Worst Case Scenario' for North Korea Nuke Test

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga speaks to VOA's Steven Herman, Tokyo, Japan, February 4, 2013.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga speaks to VOA's Steven Herman, Tokyo, Japan, February 4, 2013.
Japan's government is indicating it is preparing for all contingencies that would result from North Korea conducting a third nuclear test.  

Japan's top government spokesman has told VOA the international community is making full preparations for another threatened North Korean nuclear test.

South Korea has warned the North it faces “grave consequences” if it goes ahead with another nuclear test.  Seoul has not explained what measures it might take, but some observers say South Korea may punish the North with some kind of military action.

In a VOA interview, Japan's chief Cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, was asked how Japan views the possibility of rising tensions on the Korean peninsula flaring into open conflict.

Suga said the government's job is to always protect its people's lives and assets, and Japan is doing its best in that regard.  He said Tokyo “will deal with the worst case scenario the Japanese people might face.”

He did not elaborate.

But the top spokesman pledged Japan will work closely with its partners in the long-stalled direct talks with North Korea - China, the United States, South Korea and Russia, as well as the U.N. Security Council - to apply more sanctions against Pyongyang, if required.

North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.  Those were believed to be plutonium-fueled devices.

Pyongyang has promised another nuclear test of a “higher level.”  Some scientists and analysts suspect North Korea will either try to increase the yield of the explosion or fuel the device with highly enriched uranium.

Such a detonation is widely anticipated, at any time, based on satellite imagery of the site where the reclusive country conducted its previous two underground tests.

In maneuvers being viewed in part as a timely show of force directed at Pyongyang, the United States and South Korea are holding a three-day naval drill off the east coast of the Korean peninsula. It includes a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine and a South Korean destroyer equipped with the advanced Aegis combat system.

North Korean state media have characterized the joint exercise as preparations for a pre-emptive attack on the country.

The foreign ministry of China, which is North Korea's sole significant remaining ally, is urging “all sides not to take any action that will increase regional tension.”

Concern about the security of the Korean peninsula has been rising since December when Pyongyang launched a rocket and satellite into space in defiance of U.N. sanctions prohibiting it from utilizing ballistic-missile technology.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

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Comment Sorting
by: dorolis
February 04, 2013 11:49 PM
The North Korea continues the nuclear test,and we all see Japan is taking measure to react the threaten of the NK.
In China,the chinese government keeps silence,it's easy to know that the government is hesitating to react.As the number of cyber attack from Beijing growing,the US government and many online security insititutions become more and more ,ahh,well,danger?The eyesight of the world aims at the China,and chinese government keeps the alliance.
The JKF said NK is the catalyst of the chinese power up.I don't think so.Recently,the chinese government is facing the air pollution and the shortage of the resources.They should solve domestic problems.

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
February 04, 2013 9:43 PM
China continues to lose further influence in North Korea; in reality, NK will end up turning against China, because China is a country that no longer is willing to support the rapid advances that NK is making in strategic weapons, especially their nuclear weapons; for the ovbious reason, and that is that these weapons endanger China and its population. The more NK pushes, the more that a tremendous arms race will come about, such an arms race also endangers China. We are already seeing many alliances being forged to offset NK's ICBM ambitions, and the same alliances, by extension, will offset China's power. NK is in essence acting as a catalyst to power up Eastern Asia, and China has already powered up Western Asia. The potential for a big confrontation is rapidly increasing, such a confrontation will spill into China and end up hurting China's national interests. NK is bad news for everyone, because it acts unpredictably. Unfortunately more resources will be wasted in an arms race nobody needs.

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