Academic journal article The Journal of East Asian Affairs

Solving the Security Dilemma between North Korea and Japan

Academic journal article The Journal of East Asian Affairs

Solving the Security Dilemma between North Korea and Japan

Article excerpt


This article seeks to analyze the security dilemma between North Korea and Japan. In response to North Korea's missile test launch in July 2009 and nuclear test in October 2006 and May 2009, Japan has made continuous efforts to establish a joint missile defense (MD) system with the United States. As a consequence of the North Korean nuclear and missile test an arms race could be ignited in the region of Northeast Asia. Based on the situation in Northeast Asia, this article attempts to makes three points to solve the security dilemma, primarily between North Korea and Japan. First, North Korea should solve the uncertainties about the nuclear program, and long-range missiles and the matter of Japanese abductees, who are suspected of still being in North Korea. Second, both countries should separate the two issues in order to effectively resolve them. There should be one issue on every negotiation table especially for nuclear weapons, missile launches, and the issue of Japanese abductees. Third, political pressure is necessary to solve the commitment problem. China and the U.S. should uphold all agreements made with both countries including during the Six-Party Talks.

Key Words: Security Dilemma, Offensive and Defensive Balance, Northeast Asia, North Korea and Japan, Nuclear Weapons.


The DPRK announced its plan to launch an "earth observation satellite" on April 15. 2012. The other countries in Northeast Asia have counteracted saying that it is a violation of UN sanctions. Moreover, it violates the spirit, and possibly the U.S. -DPRK agreement signed on February 29, which stipulates that North Korea would freeze its nuclear activities at Yongbyon and suspend its "long-range" missile tests in return for 240,000 tons of food aid. As we have practiced thus far, it seems as though we still need to practice even greater patience to see an end to the North Korean nuclear program.

Every country in Northeast Asia agrees that North Korea's nuclear weapons and long-range missiles must be disabled for the maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. However, we should prepare in case a reverse situation occurs. What if North Korea breaks away from the agreement from the Six-Party Talks? What if one of the countries in Northeast Asia decides to pursue the possession of nuclear weapons and ignites an arms race?

'If the international society cannot disable North Korea's threat, what will happen to the security dilemma between North Korea and Japan? What are the ways to solve this security dilemma?' This is the main question this article seeks to answer.

This article will focus on the security dilemma in Northeast Asia. I will particularly analyze how Japan may react regarding the threat of North Korea's nuclear weapon since Japan will face the largest security dilemma in Northeast Asia.

I suggest applying the theory of realism as a method of research. This paper will focus on structural (defensive) realism. In particular, the offense-defense balance theory will be used as the main method of analysis. The realists' view of international relations is based on three core beliefs. First, the state is the principal actor in world politics. Second, realists believe that the behavior of states is influenced mainly by their external environment. Third, realists hold that calculations about power dominate states' thinking, and that states compete for power among themselves and that competition sometimes necessitates going to war. Therefore, a zero-sum quality characterizes that competition, sometimes making it intense and unforgiving (Mearsheimer 2001, 17-18). First, I will lay out the debate about the security dilemma. Then I will scrutinize both countries from the perspective of offence and defense balance. Third, I will suggest methods for the possible resolution of the security dilemma between North Korea and Japan.


Classical realism recognizes that international anarchy means the absence of a governing authority. …

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