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Monday, 27 September 2010

A Way With Words

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) misses few opportunities to make its feelings known about Japan.  As with China, Japan invaded Korea at the turn of the century and annexed part of the Peninsula- a fact that sits bitter with North Korea's WPK.  Yet, even considering this historical legacy, an article released on the website of the Korean Central News Agency yesterday (entitled Japan's Shameless Bid to Sit on UNSC Denounced") contained statements of a tone rarely seen in any country's media these days.  Commenting on Japan's continued attempts to gain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, the KCNA  accused Japan's former foreign minister of using "sugar-coated words" in an effort to gain support for Japan's bid in the Caribbean.  In addition, the article also contained several extracts from Korean newspaper Minju Joson, which yesterday carried a feature on the same story.  According to the piece, Japan "has not yet shaken off the disgraceful fame of an enemy state."  The paper goes on to label Japan as the "chief culprit upsetting the strategic balance in Northeast Asia and threatening peace", and even claimed that "it is as clear as noonday that Japan will more openly rush headlong into overseas expansion if it is allowed to sit on the UNSC."  Even on the website of the KCNA, comments of such an inflammatory nature stand out like a sore thumb.

The reason for their inclusion is clear- spurred on by Japan's recent decision to release the Chinese captain it was holding, the DPRK is looking to exploit Tokyo's weakness to the full.  Chinese state media is limited in how strongly worded its criticism of Japan can be- thus, Pyongyang has evidently stepped in to take up the slack, in attempt to harm the Japanese position as much as possible.  While this article represents an extreme case, it is also representative of the harm the Diaoyu affair may have done to Japan's international image.  Certainly, its bid for more importance in the United Nations set up will not have been done any favours by the incident.  There is the added problem that even if the UN were to elevate Japan to permanent status, countries like the DPRK would only be alienated further from channels of international diplomacy.  In this sense, the long-term effect of the collision in the East China Sea may be great indeed.

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