Japan: Confusion and speculations on the North Korean incident

The latest attack [en] by North Korea on South Korea has put Japan on the alert. Is it the beginning of a war? Will it be Japan's turn next time? Or is it just a ‘beat-up’ created by both conservative and alarmist media alike? People in Japan are alarmed but don't know what to think.

The northern neighbor has always been viewed with suspicion by the Japanese islanders, as several missile launches [en] in the recent past and ongoing issues such as the abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s [en] have contributed to create a climate of diplomatic tensions between Kim Yong-Il's regime and Japan.
And so stacks of commentaries on the incident have flooded TV programs and editorials, but media-distrustful Japanese people smell a rat and give their own interpretations of the incident.

By Ryuugakusei. CC License.

Kayo proposed an emergency plan just in case something terrible happens.


It's the first time since I was born that an attack like this happened in a neighbor country. It's different from the war in the far Middle East. This time it's real and makes me nervous.
I feel quite uneasy when people make careless comments like “North Korea is really scary! Oh yes, indeed!” typical of a country that is not experiencing conflict. Many say “North Korea is a crazy country!” with malice in their words. I really don't understand those who spread rage like this in this world. They are all meaningless conversations.


In cases like this, it's important to think what to do next and consider in a sober-minded way how one can prepare, without getting anxious and angry because of the news watched on TV or read on the internet.
For example, one could prepare survival goods or set up a bag with emergency stuff. I know that some people may laugh at me but it's also handy in case of an earthquake.
Even training your body so that you'd be able to live a little longer in case something bad happens…People may laugh at me also for this but it can also be an excuse for a diet, so two birds with one stone.

Fear of an imminent war made some bloggers, like teruteruasita , reflect on what counts in life and the bliss of living in a peaceful country.


…I had goose bumps when I saw the news…
Rumors said that because of a generation change [in the leadership], North Korea wants to show off its military power but…I don't care…I'm just scared of war.
It's scary that people die.
Everyone has a family or friends and they can be lost in one second.
Peace…Only if peace is built will people happy.

But does it make sense all this alarm? some wonder. Or is it just Japan being hyper-sensitive to whatever actions North Korea takes?
Chisa Murakami says things sound different when asked of a person who actually lives in South Korea.


North Korea's attack really surprised me. I realized that an attack in such a nearby place could really happen.
It's sufficient [that Kim Jong-Il says:] “I'm pissed off!” and Japan can be hit …
Hmm, what a scary country!
When the first news arrived I was in the office. It was a holiday but some people had come to work and we were all glued to the TV.
Toshi-boy ran to call his sister who was in Seoul but she was watching a cartoon with her child and didn't know anything [about the attack]…

Freelance writer Shigenobu Gu (具 滋宣), who grew up and lives between South Korea and Japan, tried to see the circumstances from the neutral and detached viewpoint of someone who knows both cultures very well.

11月23日に起きた北朝鮮による砲撃事件は各方面に大きなショックを与えた。ふたりの民間人までもを巻き込んだ今回の事件は、韓国政府が最高非常 警戒を発令するなど、近年まれに見る事態に発展した。私も周りから実家の心配をされるなどしたので、日本にも多少なり緊張感が走った様子だ。
先日の砲撃事件はその規模がかなり大きかったので日本のマスコミでも大々的に取り上げられたが、韓国と北朝鮮の衝突事件は実は何十年も前から数えきれないほど起きている。韓国の人々はもはや麻痺気味になってしまっていて、「また北朝鮮か」くらいで終了することも多い。最近では細かい事件となると韓国 のマスコミが北朝鮮ネタで視聴率を取ることすらままならないほどだ。

North Korea's attack on November 23 has shocked people for many reasons. This time even two civilians were involved and the South Korean government issued the highest level alert warning, a situation that has rarely been seen in the recent times.
People were worried for me and in Japan there was quite a nervous atmosphere. For instance, the number of tourists who canceled their travels to South Korea increased but reality was slightly different. Although the South Korean government was active, many don't know that the common people didn't need to stay away from the streets and nothing changed particularly in their daily lives.
Since the scale of the attack was quite large the Japanese media covered it extensively but in reality troubles between South and North Korea have been happening numerous times in the last decades. South Korean people are kind of used to this and “North Korea? Again?”, is often the usual reaction. To the extent that now, when something particular happens [involving the North], South Korean media seldom increase their audience share with news on North Korea.



I felt a quite different level of interest between Japan and South Korea in regard to this North Korean incident. Perhaps I felt it because I've become used to living in a peaceful country for there's no doubt that Japan is really a peaceful country in a good sense.

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  • […] Political Ups & Downs This year, Japanese politics presented a few unexpected turns of events. As soon as January, the new government elected last fall started to totter when PM Hatoyama hinted at taking back its promises to relocate the US bases outside the Okinawa prefecture: which made clear how the local population lived the problem very differently from those living in the main island, far from the bases. When the deadline came, in May, the government announced that the relocation project had been annulled and frustrated Okinawa people made their voice heard. Almost immediately after, the government fell and a new prime minister was elected, letting many voters confused. Amidst political instability and a looming recession, this summer Japan was officially surpassed by China as the second largest economy in the world. The Japanese people, however, weren’t particularly surprised and kept having faith in their country’s potential. Last fall was then characterized by international relations on a razor edge, to which Japanese bloggers and their neighbours reacted swiftly. First came the clash between a Chinese fishing boat and a Japanese coastguard by some disputed islands, which ignited a virtual debate between two prominent bloggers, from China and Japan, respectively. Then came North Korean attack on a South Korean island: the Japanese netizens reflected on the incident and expressed their anxieties. […]

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