Japan: The View from My Window


japan miyako hotel view steve clemons.jpg
In Tokyo for a couple of days, and this was a pretty nice way to get acclimated when I arrived. Beautiful gardens here outside my window.
North Korea’s leaders need to spend some time in gardens like these — and cool out a bit. Seems to me that North Korea’s attack, despite the violence uptick, is a typical call for attention and an extortionist demand for more resources.
Information has reached me that some USAF personnel have been put on 24 hour deployment alert with regard to North Korea. I don’t know how regular or irregular that is — but know that despite a lot of tension in the country since 9/11, my sources have not been put on such alert before. The USAF has denied that it has changed its alert status in comments to other journalist friends of mine — but the actual personnel beg to differ.
More soon.
— Steve Clemons


12 comments on “Japan: The View from My Window

  1. Don Bacon says:

    Territorial waters, according to accepted maritime boundary understandings, extend 12nm (1nm = 6076ft) from the coast.
    The 1953 Armistice Agreement established a demarcation line and a demilitarized zone (DMZ) on the land, but not on the water. The UN unilaterally set a


  2. Don Bacon says:

    The US military (#1 world military ranking) is supposedly in this part of the world to defend both Japan (#9) and South Korea (#12) from North Korea (#20).
    On June 4, 2008, Robert Gates acknowledged in South Korea that the threat of an attack from the North doesn’t exist. “I don’t think anybody considers the Republic of Korea today a combat zone,” Mr. Gates told reporters on the final day of a weeklong Asian trip.
    So Gates extended the tours the almost 30,000 troops stationed there to three years and allowing their spouses and children to live with them during their assignments. There is now a huge building boom going on to provide dependent housing, schools, rec centers etc. for US military families.
    There are also 35,000 US troops in Japan. These are rich countries, too. Plus there are significant trade imbalances. The US imports fifty cars from Korea for every one car it exports to Korea — and US taxpayers are defending Hyundai plants?
    Meanwhile the kids a couple towns over from me attend classes in ‘temporary’ classrooms. They’ve been ‘temporary’ for years.
    Makes no sense.


  3. Don Bacon says:

    Diplomacy is required, not sending gunboats. That’s not being helpful.
    from Democracy Now: (h/t Dirk)
    A few years ago, under the former presidency of Roh Moo-Hyun, there was actually a meeting, a summit meeting, between the president of South Korea and Kim Jong Il, the dictator of North Korea. They sat down and worked out sort of a set of agreements to try to decrease tensions in that maritime area, including the making of free fishing zones and having discussions to alleviate the attention to make sure there were no incidents like this. This new president Lee is very conservative man who has rejected the former sunshine policies of Kim Dae-Jung and his predecessor, who were much more open and tried to cement closer relationships and end the enmity between North and South Korea. Lee unilaterally pulled away from this agreement.//(end excerpt)
    Is the US capable of diplomacy? is the question.


  4. Dirk says:

    On Wednesday’s Democracy Now broadcast they hosted an investigative journalist that covers N. Korea which substantiates and adds to most of what Don is stating here. It was a very informative broadcast:


  5. Don Bacon says:

    CNN has more on the “Northern Limit Line”:
    At the heart of the dispute is what’s called the Northern Limit Line. In 1953, after the Korean War, the United Nations unilaterally drew this line three nautical miles from the North Korean coastline. That put five islands close to the coast under South Korean control. It also hemmed in the port of Haeju, the only deepwater harbor in the North that doesn’t freeze in winter. What was supposed to be a temporary arrangement has become permanent in the absence of a full peace agreement. The Northern Limit Line is still in place today — running close to the North Korean shoreline for about 100 miles.
    Pyongyang has never been happy about the arrangement, but only in the 1970s did it begin to challenge it. North Korea has subsequently proposed a different line — one that would roughly extend the DMZ southwest out into the Yellow Sea, rather than hug the North Korean shoreline. A few years ago, in typically colorful language, the North labeled the NLL “an illegal and brigandish line drawn by the U.S. on our sacred territorial waters.” But the South has always resisted Pyongyang’s alternative line — as it would have brought North Korea’s maritime boundary closer to its main port of Incheon.
    Apparently South Korea has been periodically (weekly) shooting into waters that it claims, more than three nautical miles off North Korea’s coast, in order to enforce its self-decided jurisdiction. If this is the case then it’s not only an armistice violation bugt also a foolish provocation.


  6. Carroll says:

    Hey, you know that Open government we were promised?…well heerrr it is:…ROTFLMAO
    US Congress warns of ‘damaging’ new WikiLeaks release
    The United States has warned foreign governments that a damaging release of classified diplomatic cables by the controversial WikiLeaks website is likely in the coming days.
    The huge cache of files is thought to include candid reports by US officials abroad of corruption allegations against named politicians and nations.
    There may also be embarrassing assessments of foreign leaders and officials who have had dealings with US diplomats.
    According to the Obama administration the revelations could harm relations between the US and its friends and allies around the world, even putting lives at risk.
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    Wikileaks documents expected to be released as Nato warns of ‘unfortunate situation’24 Nov 2010
    State Department spokesman P J Crowley said the documents may be “harmful to our national security. It does put lives at risk. It does put national interests at risk.”
    “They are going to create tension in relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world,”
    The cables are internal documents that include secret communications between US diplomatic outposts and State Department headquarters in Washington.
    They may also include examples of pressure placed by the Obama administration on various countries to accept the transfer of Guant


  7. Don Bacon says:

    “Absent any actual evidence that the firing exercises transgressed the northern limit line, then the most plausible hypothesis, give North Korea’s deplorable and reckless track record, is that their artillery assault is absolutely illegal and unjustified.”
    There is actually no legal “northern limit line”. The only north-south demarcation line is on land. Off-shore there are disputed waters. As one can see on the map, Yeonpyeong Island is off North Korea, and the waters are disputed.
    The only conceivable reason that South Korea would be firing shells into this water, after being warned not to, in a war zone operating under an armistice which prohibits “all acts of armed force” — the ONLY conceivable motive would be to cause a provocation. Without any antagonistic action there is NO OTHER conceivable reason.
    Or were they shooting fish?
    The South Korea National Assembly


  8. Don Bacon says:

    I’ve put my Yeonpyeong Island notes up on a web-page. Enjoy!
    The US (as in other matters) could solve this “Korean Standoff” in a heart-beat by one-on-one negotiations with North Korea but Washington refuses to do it. A great empire needs enemies, and NorKor has served for 57 years (since the armistice) — let’s go for 57 more.


  9. Dan Kervick says:

    Don, do you have any evidence at all for your insinuations and imaginative leaps, or are they just conceits born out of your own biases?
    Absent any actual evidence that the firing exercises transgressed the northern limit line, then the most plausible hypothesis, give North Korea’s deplorable and reckless track record, is that their artillery assault is absolutely illegal and unjustified.
    My hypothesis would be that this is not simply a case of North Korea wanting “attention”. Nor are they trying to start a war. Rather, in the grand world tradition of “statesmanship”, the new crown prince of North Korea and his advisers felt the need to engage in some display of ruthless and unwarranted killing in order to send out the message that the new kid has a big pair.
    The South doesn’t want war, and will be very eager to make sure that this attack doesn’t lead to an uncontrolled escalation. They have far too much to lose. North Korea knows that, and by engaging in occasional belligerency they are able to lay bare everyone’s mutual knowledge of that fact quite clearly.
    The strength of North Korea’s hand comes, ironically, from their economic weakness and governmental backwardness. As a country that manifestly cares nothing for the actual material welfare of its people, and cares only about that people’s obedience and ideological subordination to a crackpot dynasty, and as a country that is backed into the lonely corner of history watching the clock tick off the final seconds of their laughable “system”, North Korea has little to lose from highly risky and provocative outbursts. All they can hope for is to force the US back into talks so they can extract themselves from their self-imposed attachment to backwardness, and make some kind of deal that allows them to save some face and avoid total regime collapse.
    My guess would be that Kim III will eventually come forward with with some slightly more conciliatory gesture, but didn’t want his first act to be seen as an act of supplication and weakness. So he went for the customary murders instead. How impressive.
    Of course, there is also the more frightening possibility that this is a case of some North Korean military people going rogue and attempting to bring down the Kims during this transition by precipitating a crisis.


  10. Don Bacon says:

    If Captcha accepted multiple links it would all be documented, but it doesn’t.
    So google the quotes and get the docs, if you know how to google. Barry Rubin does.


  11. nadine says:

    Or, to make a long story short, you believe all North Korean propaganda implicitly, and you have no problem excusing an unprovoked artillery attack on civilians.


  12. Don Bacon says:

    Regarding North Korea, the rest of the story.
    Yeonpyeong Island lies 7.5 miles off North Korea’s shores, in disputed waters, but on the island is a ROK marine base and civilian housing, fishermen and their families. The north-south demarcation line is only on the land, not on the water.
    Yeonpyeong Island is #3 on this map
    The RoKs run an annual military exercise in the area. This year General Sharp, US Army, decided to make it division size. The NorKors learned of it and told the RoKs it was provocative. They ran it anyhow.
    Also, the ROKS were plopping some shells into the nearby waters. Let South Korean Minister of National Defense Kim Tae-young tell it:


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