Japan to check NoKo ships

Continuing its policy of stepping up to the plate by stages in matters of military security, Japan has announced it will begin patrolling sea lanes for North Korean ships which might contain contraband cargo. The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's largest newspaper, reports:

The government intends to conduct inspections of cargo to and from North Korea in the Tsushima Strait and in waters northwest of Okinawa, in line with a U.N. Security Council resolution, sources said Saturday.

As part of sanctions imposed in response to North Korea's nuclear test, the government is considering deploying several destroyers and P—3C patrol aircraft of the Maritime Self—Defense Force to the two sea areas and airspace.

According to the outline of the government's action plan on possible inspections of cargo to and from North Korea, the MSDF is expected to engage in warning and surveillance activities regarding ships heading to North Korea.

If a suspicious ship is spotted, the MSDF is to notify and provide information to U.S. forces and other foreign forces deployed in waters off the coasts of North Korea.

The government plans to coordinate with the United States and other countries to complete the outline, according to the sources.

The potentially explosive task of borarding and inspecting ships is wisely being left to American forces, but Japan is taking the key role of identifying targets. Historical sensitivities in Asia being what they are, this division of labor makes sense.

It also demonstrates the measured approach of the Japanese government in expanding its role in strategic defense. Throughout the nuclear test crisis with North Korea, Japan has rejected the option of going nuclear itself. Once it is taken, this step is irreversible, and is best kept in reserve, for it is certain to provoke intense and undesired reactions from South Korea, Taiwan, and potentially other nations in the region, too.

Hat tip: Joseph Crowley

Thomas Lifson   10 23 06

Continuing its policy of stepping up to the plate by stages in matters of military security, Japan has announced it will begin patrolling sea lanes for North Korean ships which might contain contraband cargo. The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's largest newspaper, reports:

The government intends to conduct inspections of cargo to and from North Korea in the Tsushima Strait and in waters northwest of Okinawa, in line with a U.N. Security Council resolution, sources said Saturday.

As part of sanctions imposed in response to North Korea's nuclear test, the government is considering deploying several destroyers and P—3C patrol aircraft of the Maritime Self—Defense Force to the two sea areas and airspace.

According to the outline of the government's action plan on possible inspections of cargo to and from North Korea, the MSDF is expected to engage in warning and surveillance activities regarding ships heading to North Korea.

If a suspicious ship is spotted, the MSDF is to notify and provide information to U.S. forces and other foreign forces deployed in waters off the coasts of North Korea.

The government plans to coordinate with the United States and other countries to complete the outline, according to the sources.

The potentially explosive task of borarding and inspecting ships is wisely being left to American forces, but Japan is taking the key role of identifying targets. Historical sensitivities in Asia being what they are, this division of labor makes sense.

It also demonstrates the measured approach of the Japanese government in expanding its role in strategic defense. Throughout the nuclear test crisis with North Korea, Japan has rejected the option of going nuclear itself. Once it is taken, this step is irreversible, and is best kept in reserve, for it is certain to provoke intense and undesired reactions from South Korea, Taiwan, and potentially other nations in the region, too.

Hat tip: Joseph Crowley

Thomas Lifson   10 23 06