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2010.10.08 (Fri)

In Preparation for the Collapse of the Kim Jong Il Regime, Japan Should Enhance Strategic Talks and Defense Cooperation with the United States and South Korea and Pass Special Abductee Rescue Measures Legislation

October 8, 2010

North Korean Emergency Policy Proposals 2
Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

 

 

In Preparation for the Collapse of the Kim Jong Il Regime,
Japan Should Enhance Strategic Talks and Defense Cooperation with the United States and South Korea and Pass Special Abductee Rescue Measures Legislation

 

 

    The Kim Jong Il regime has further destabilized. Although any future scenario is difficult to accurately predict at present, North Korea is expected to plunge into an emergency situation at any time. The government of Japan should prepare itself to respond to such an emergency situation.
    At a conference of delegates of North Korea’s ruling Workers' Party in September, Kim Jong Il’s third son, Kim Jong Un, officially emerged as a candidate to be the North Korean leader’s successor. At the same time, the leader’s sister, Kim Kyong Hui, was named to key posts in the party and the military. These developments indicate that Kim Jong Il has felt the approaching end of his lifeand employed his relatives to enhance his regime because he fears that his policies could be discontinued after his death1. He also has reconstructed the Political Bureau, the Central Military Committee and other party organizations that had not been working properly2. However, it is uncertain whether Kim Jong Il’s plan for a smooth inauguration of Kim Jong Un after his death would occur.
     In September 2009, the Japan Institute for National Fundementals announced its North Korean Emergency Policy Proposals 1, titled “Japan Should Be Prepared to Respond to Emergency Situation in North Korea -- Promote Freedom Unification by ROK to Prevent China’s Control of Korean Peninsula.” Since then, the United States, South Korea and China have become more prepared to respond to an emergency situation in North Korea in a bid to expand their respective national interests. Japan should keep step with them. The JINF believes Japan should implement at least the following proposals in the immediate future:
1. Japan should promote strategic talks with the United States and South Korea and adopt a more realistic interpretation of the Japanese Constitution over the right of collective self-defense, the revision of the Act on Measures to Ensure the Peace and Security of Japan in Perilous Situations in Areas Surrounding Japan and the development of a rule of engagement in order to enable substantive defense cooperation. Japan should also conduct coordination and joint drills with aforementioned two countries.
2. Japan should pass special abductee rescue measures legislation including the following four measures to protect and rescue Japanese nationals in North Korea, including abductees and women married to North Koreans:
(1) The government shall try to protect and rescue Japanese nationals including abductees in the event of an emergency situation in North Korea.
(2) The government shall always collect information and make close preparatory coordination with relevant countries.
(3) The minister of defense shall be empowered to order the Self-Defense Forces to protect and rescue overseas Japanese nationals.
(4) The SDF shall be empowered to use weapons for such protection and rescue missions.

 

Details

 

● Previous proposals have impacted South Korea
    The JINF’s North Korean Emergency Policy Proposals 1 in September 2009 made the following points:

 

     After Kim Jong Il’s death, North Korea could plunge into an emergency situation, a chaos in which the government could lose control of the country. The JINF believes the Korean Peninsula is entering the era of drastic changes rather than maintaining the status quo.
     The expansion of free democracy on the Korean Peninsula and the eradication of anti-Japanese policies are desirable for Japan. A unified Korea under the auspices of South Korea would likely meet Japan’s national interests as long as South Korea sticks to its alliance with the United States, the Japan-South Korea Basic Relations Treaty and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
     Japan should attempt to realize the best scenario. If Japan takes irresponsible action, and avoids needed sacrifices and burdens, the Japan-U.S. alliance may weaken. This could result in the United States cooperating with China and tolerating a China-controlled North Korean regime while disregarding Japan. If Japan, the United States and South Korea expand democracy on the Korean Peninsula as a common strategy and prepare to respond to an emergency situation in North Korea, the three nations may be able to prevent a hegemonic China in East Asia.

 

     The previous JINF proposals have had a powerful impact on conservatives in South Korea3. In December 2009, the JINF sent delegates to South Korea for serious talks with the government, military and intelligence officials, private-sector experts and North Korean defectors. The JINF agreed with them on the following three points:
(1) Kim Jong Il regime could collapse, causing the country to spiral out of control.
(2) An out-of-control North Korea would provide an opportunity for South Korea to take a leadership role in the democratic unification of the Korean Peninsula.
(3) South Korea, the United States and Japan should enter into strategic talks.

 

● Potential antigovernment force in North Korea and pro-Pyongyang leftists in South Korea
      A huge potential antigovernment force has been formed in North Korea. Because millions of people starved after the suspension of rationing in the second half of the 1990s, the number of people dependant on market-based trade for survival has increased and now account for approximately 80% of the country’s total population. In November 2009, Kim Jong Il regime implemented monetary reform to weaken market forces and attempt to get control of the country. The reform failed in the face of opposition from diehard citizens, forcing the leader to punish those responsible for the failure. Shortwave radios, balloon flyers, communications with defectors, smuggled South Korean dramas and songs, and the like have made North Koreans aware that South Korea is free and far more affluent than the North.
       After the death of Kim Jong Il, the Kim Jong Un group that is likely to take over the Kim Jong Il policy of giving priority to the military and liberating South Korea may intensify confrontation with a group that would try to implement the Chinese-style reform and opening policy to maintain a single-party rule in the northern half of the peninsula. If social control eases in the North amid an intense confrontation, the market-supporting force that accounts for 80% of the North Korean population may look to win business freedoms, dismantle co-op farms and improve citizens’ livelihoods. If South Korea works with this force, a great movement for the democratic unification of the peninsula may emerge in North Korea.
       The U.S.-South Korean alliance and China are continuing political, diplomatic and military preparations to respond to an emergency situation in North Korea. But pro-Pyongyang leftists in South Korea still remain powerful. The Lee Myung Bak regime and the ruling Grand National Party have pursued middle of the road solutions and avoided any confrontation with the leftists. The group calling for a democratic unification is limited to about 30% of the South Korean population and no political force has yet represented the group. In the 2012 presidential election, a pro-Pyongyang leftist could potentially again and attempt to abolish the U.S.-South Korea alliance, thereby leading to the possibility of unification under a federation with North Korea.

 

● Japan left unable to provide substantive support for U.S. forces
    Japan has failed to make strategic response amid a futile political struggle after the government change. Under present law, Japan may be unable to provide substantive support for U.S. forces in the event of an emergency situation. This is because the government’s interpretation of the Constitution regarding the right of collective self-defense has blocked proper legislation.
     Under the present Act on Measures to Ensure the Peace and Security of Japan in Perilous Situations in Areas Surrounding Japan, Japan cannot provide U.S. forces with weapons or ammunition. Japan is also prohibited from fueling or maintaining U.S. aircraft in preparation for taking off for combat operations. Even under the Act on Ship Inspection Operations in Situations in Areas Surrounding Japan, Japanese inspectors are only allowed to inspect documents and cargoes on a ship in question after asking the ship to stop, gaining its captain’s consent to an onboard inspection and getting on the stopped ship. The Maritime Self-Defense Force is only allowed to approach, tail or accompany a ship in question or wait for it in its front as required to persuade the ship. Use of weapons is tightly regulated. The cargo inspection act, which was enacted this year, prohibits Japan from inspecting or issuing any order to any foreign ship in high seas without approval by its flag state. It also bans other effective measures. Japan is thus left unable to provide even minimum support or cooperation required by the United States from one of its allies. There is a fear that the present situation could lead the Japan-U.S. alliance to collapse.
     In its Policy Index 2009, the ruling Democratic Party of Japan said the party would not stick to past conceptual discussions on individual or collective self-defense rights. The ruling party should expeditiously revise defense laws without sticking to the past government’s interpretation of the Constitution.

 

● Pass special abductee rescue measures legislation
     Under present law, Japan cannot effectively protect Japanese nationals in the event of an emergency situation. Legally, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is required to protect overseas Japanese nationals. The SDF Act allows the SDF to transport Japanese nationals after the SDF has consulted with the minister for foreign affairs and acknowledged that the safety of the transportation is secure. Unless safety is secured, the SDF may be unable to even transport Japanese nationals instead of rescuing them. 
      In the event of an emergency situation, the government may be required to protect many Japanese nationals in South Korea. It would be too late for Japan to revise the SDF Act or any interpretation of the Constitution if such situation emerges suddenly. Because of this, the government may eventually abandon Japanese nationals. It may also be unable to protect or rescue Japanese nationals in North Korea, including abductees and women married to North Koreans.
      Before such a situation occurs, Japan should pass special abductee rescue measures legislation and coordinate with relevant countries including the United States and South Korea. The legislation should include the following measures:
(1) The government shall try to protect and rescue Japanese nationals including abductees in the event of an emergency situation in North Korea.
(2) To this end, the government shall always collect information and make close preparatory coordination with relevant countries.
(3) The minister of defense shall be empowered to order the Self-Defense Forces to protect and rescue overseas Japanese nationals.
(4) The SDF shall be empowered to use weapons for such protection and rescue missions.

 

     Such legislation would not necessarily run counter to the government’s interpretation of the Constitution. If it is expected to violate the interpretation, the government should correct the interpretation. It would be too late to do so after an emergency situation comes.
     The Future Concept of Japan’s National Security and Defense Forces in a New Age, as reported to the prime minister in August 2010 by a council on national security and defense forces in a new age, says the SDF should try to rescue overseas Japanese nationals in danger as necessary while continuing routine information cooperation and coordination with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and relevant foreign authorities. The report also says that there certain problems should be improved for the facilitation of the Japan-U.S. security arrangements, including the government’s traditional interpretation of the Constitution regarding the exercise of self-defense rights. It also says the government should responsibly tackle problems, reach conclusions expeditiously and prepare to respond to any emergency situation.
     Even the council set up under the DPJ government has made the above proposals. If the prime minister shelves the problems and fails to make proper efforts to create legislation, it may amount to the abdication of his responsibility. We urge the government to expeditiously enact the special measures legislation4.

 

 

1 According to the South Korean National Intelligence Service, Kim Jong Il has health problems including aftereffects of a stroke and renal dialysis and can normally work only two to three days a week.
2 Kim Jong Il had emphasized his dictatorship in defiance of official organizations within the Workers’ Party. Since 1980, the party had held no convention. The party’s Central Committee, which had held one or two general meetings annually when Kim Il Sung was alive, had never met since 1993. The conference of party delegates, the general meeting of the Central Committee, and the redevelopment of the Political Bureau and the Central Military Committee in September indicated a switch from Kim Jong Il’s traditional political style.
3 South Korean conservative leader Cho Gab Je cited the full text of our proposals in his Internet newspaper “Cho Gab Je. Com” and in the freedom unification strategy written in his book, Great Strategy of Reporter Cho Gab Je – Overthrowing North Korean Regime by 2012, as published in January 2010. Conservative opinion magazine Hanguk Nondan (published by Lee Do Hyeong) has also carried the full text of the proposals.
4 On October 3, 2010, the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea (Kazoku-kai) and the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea (Sukuu-kai) held a joint meeting and decided to call for creating a legal framework for rescuing abductees in preparation for chaos following the collapse of the Kim Jong Il regime.