What We’re Forgetting in March to War with North Korea

Editor’s Note: The following is an English translation of an article that appeared in the September 19 edition of the Okinawan daily newspaper Ryukyu Shimpo. It was written by Satoko Oka Norimatsu, editor of the Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. Norimatsu is also the Director of Vancouver, BC, Canada-based Peace Philosophy Centre. 

This article, which the author translated into English herself, has been reposted with permission from Ryukyu Shimpo and lightly edited for clarity.

(ANTIMEDIA)  In a joint media conference with the Korean president Moon Jae-in on September 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin raised concerns over the possible impact of a total oil embargo (endorsed by the U.S., South Korea, and Japan) on civilian life in North Korea, including the negative effects on hospitals and other vital infrastructure.

Thankfully, the new set of sanctions that was subsequently approved by the United Nations Security Council approximately a week later did not include the total embargo, yet almost all Japanese media reported this as disappointing news.

Do Japanese people not care if innocent civilians freeze to death in North Korea, where the average temperature during the winter months is below zero?

Japan, hand in hand with the biggest nuclear power in the world, continues to threaten North Korea on a daily basis with their military bases and joint military exercises. Through this provocation, they also threaten Russia and China. The U.S. and its allies call their superpower threat “deterrence,” and, by comparison, they call the small and isolated country’s desperate effort to protect their sovereignty “provocation.” Mentions of severe sanctions and military force are made with ease and without any objection. Clearly, the Japanese government, media, and its people do not seem to consider the lives and livelihoods of the people on the Korean Peninsula — whether North or South — as important or noteworthy.

Even U.S. chief strategist Steve Bannon expressed major concerns over the 10 million people expected who could be killed in Seoul by conventional weapons in the first thirty minutes of a pending war with North Korea, alone, concluding “there is no military solution,” in an interview published on August 16. He was fired immediately after this.

Japan’s colonial mentality seemingly prevails in Japanese society 72 years after the country’s defeat in WWII. This can be seen in the discrimination toward Korean schools by excluding them from the public subsidy program and in Japan’s rising denial of the history of mass slaughters of Koreans in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923.

Perhaps, with this continuing historical prejudice added by their post-war blind subservience to the U.S., Japanese media from right to left are extremely biased when anything regarding the Korean Peninsula is concerned. They assume and portray North Korea as a villain while treating Russia and China – who seek political and diplomatic solutions – as if they are a nuisance.

Daniel Ellsberg, a whistleblower known for the leak of Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War, said in an interview last year: “To avoid nuclear war, it is critical for the United States to declare no first use of nuclear weapons, and Japan should urge the U.S. to make that pledge.”

After Barack Obama visited Hiroshima in May last year, the former president seriously considered the no first use policy but did not follow through, partly because the Abe administration opposed it. If Obama had managed to make that pledge, the nuclear crisis we have seen unfolding this year would have had a very different outlook. Japanese people should be aware of their own country’s responsibility in inviting this current crisis. Abe, having fanned fear the way he has, said on August 29 that the situation “is a serious and grievous one that we have never seen before.

We cannot allow this farce to continue.

At the beginning of this month, a group of activists, scholars, and journalists, mostly based in North America, held a phone conference led by Peace Action’s Kevin Martin regarding the nuclear crisis. I also participated in this call. One of the topics discussed was the “double-freeze” solution proposed by China and endorsed by Russia, which would essentially have North Korea freeze its nuclear program and missile testing in exchange for the U.S. and South Korea freezing their military exercises. North Korea itself has made such proposals in the past, and the U.S. has consistently rejected them.

Many experts believe this proposal will open a door for dialogue, but the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, dismissed the notion outright, calling it “insulting.” That being said, there does not seem to be any serious consideration of this proposal in the Japanese media, either.

Now, more than ever, the media bears a heavy responsibility for preventing war.

By Satoko Oka Norimatsu / Republished with permission / Asia-Pacific JournalReport a typo

This article was chosen for republication based on the interest of our readers. Anti-Media republishes stories from a number of other independent news sources. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect Anti-Media editorial policy.