Wed Apr 9, 3:46 AM ET AFP
TOKYO (AFP) – North Korea warned Japan to remember it was “within striking distance” of the Stalinist state amid heightened calls in Tokyo to contain the Pyongyang regime.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency accused Japan of being emboldened by the US-led invasion of Iraq which it condemned as “state-sponsored terrorism,” in its ambition to remilitarize.
“Japan should behave with discretion, clearly mindful that it is also within the striking range of the DPRK (North Korea),” KCNA said in a dispatch monitored here.
In 1998 Pyongyang test-fired a medium-range Taepodong ballistic missile that overflew Japan and splashed down in the Pacific.
“Japan is turning to the right and is getting militarized at such a rapid tempo that the call for destroying the DPRK, a legitimate sovereign state, is heard in the Diet (Japanese parliament). This is a clear indication of the gravity of the situation.
“The Japanese reactionaries seem to have lost their reason under the impact of the Iraqi war launched by their master,” KCNA said in a reference to the United States which Japan has backed over going to war.
Calls in Japan to contain North Korea amid the growing nuclear crisis served as a pretext for Japanese “reactionaries” to further their aim of reoccupying the Korean peninsula, KCNA alleged.
It highlighted a recent series of comments by Japan’s hawkish defence minister, Shigeru Ishiba, who late last month said it would not be unconstitutional for Japan to make a pre-emptive attack on the launch site if North Korea were about to launch a missile at Japan.
“An endless string of war outcries in Japan calling for containing the DPRK by force indicates what a dangerous phase the Japanese reactionaries’ attempt to stage a comeback to Korea has reached.
Japan ruled the Korean peninsula as a colony from 1910 until the end of World War II in 1945.
“By counter-action in case of emergency they mean a contingency on the Korean peninsula, i.e. The second Korean war,” KCNA said.
The agency cited Japan’s deployment of its first two spy satellites last month as evidence of the Japanese military build-up.
There was no immediate comment from the Japanese government, but on the Tokyo foreign exchange market the warning contributed towards a drop in the yen, dealers said.
The dollar traded at 120.01-05 yen at 2:00 pm (0500 GMT), shortly after KCNA’s statement, up from 119.85-95 yen in New York on Tuesday afternoon, but the Japanese currency recovered to 119.91 to the dollar by 3.45 pm.
The North Korean warning “provided a reason for not supporting the yen,” said Osamu Takashima, manager of the foreign exchange division at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.
Pyongyang’s latest outburst came hours before the United Nations was due to intervene for the first time in the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula.
The 15-member UN Security Council was scheduled to convene later in the day in New York for a meeting that represents a victory for US efforts to cast the deepening crisis as a challenge to the entire world community.
The United States has been pressing the United Nations to take up North Korea since October, when Washington said Pyongyang had admitted pursuing nuclear weapons despite a 1994 accord to freeze its nuclear program.
Since then North Korea has expelled UN nuclear inspectors, restarted its mothballed nuclear reactor at Yongbyon that can produce weapons grade plutonium, withdrawn from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and test-launched short-range missiles.
North Korea is believed to have deployed some 100 Rodong-1 missiles with a range of 1,300 kilometres (805 miles), capable of striking any target in Japan.