Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Is it really time for North Korean bunker capitalism ?

The Kaesong Industrial Complex, located just north of the
heavily fortified border, is considered to be one of the
main achievements of the landmark inter-Korean summit in
2000. The zone is a testing ground for mixing South
Korean capitalism and technology with the North's cheap
labor. The ambitious plan by the two Koreas to transform
their border area into a joint industrial park has been
thrown into deep uncertainty in the wake of missile
launches by the North that have heighten geopolitical
risks on the divided peninsula.

South Korean officials are meeting their U.S.
counterparts to discuss a free trade deal this week, but
they can hardly win a U.S. concession to recognize items
manufactured at the complex in the North Korean border
city of Kaesong as South Korean products. If the Kaesong
products are not considered as South Korean-made, which
ensures tariff benefits, they can hardly be sold in the
United States and elsewhere. South Korean manufacturers
will be reluctant to make ventures in the North Korean
industrial complex at a time when tensions are running
high across the border following the North's missile
tests last week.

A total of 15 South Korean companies produce goods
ranging from clothes to kitchenware at the complex,
hiring thousands of North Korean workers. More than
6,500 North Korean workers are working for a dozen South
Korean firms operating in the joint complex. Under an
inter-Korean government accord, North Korean workers
there are paid about $58 a month. The money is not paid
directly to the workers, but instead goes to the North
Korean authorities. South Korean manufacturers have
relocated their factories to the Kaesong complex to
benefit from cheap labor and land, want to export goods
at competitive prices to the United States and other
countries. With the labels of being "made in DPRK (North
Korea)," however, Kaesong products can hardly be sold in
the United States due to high tariffs that would cut
their price competitiveness. Nations are concerned that
strategic products such as precision machinery and
high-tech personal computers, may reach the industrial
park in the North viewed as supporting terrorism. The
U.S. State Department has already conveyed its concerns
about Seoul's easy shipments of strategic items through
the Kaesong project. Blacklisted North Korea, a country
that sponsors terrorism was imposed financial sanctions
for its alleged counterfeiting, money-laundering and WMD

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Abe Shinzo : "Japan premptive strike on North Korea permitted if attack imminent".

Japan has the right to strike a foreign missile base if
the country is under imminent threat of attack, Chief
Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said Monday. Speaking to
reporters and referring to the pacifist Constitution, Abe
said overseas strikes would fall within the legal
parameters of self-defense "if there is no other way to
prevent a missile attack on Japan."

Abe, however, appeared to be discussing a theoretical
possibility rather than a realistic response to the launch
of ballistic missiles by North Korea into the Sea of Japan
last week. In making the remark, Abe referred to an
official government view on overseas attacks expressed in
1956 by the then Defense Agency chief during a Lower House
session. "We have to have deeper debate on the issue" of
the Constitution's ban on the use of force to settle
international disputes, and its limits on Japan having
only self-defense capability, Abe added. Later, Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters: "We have to
think carefully about whether we can really resort to arms
before we are attacked because this is also a
constitutional issue."

Abe's statements mirrored remarks Sunday by Defense Agency
chief Fukushiro Nukaga. "As a sovereign nation, it is
natural to consider possessing the minimum capability (for
pre-emptive strikes) under a certain framework," Nukaga
said, adding that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and
its coalition partner, New Komeito, need to agree on this.
Nukaga also said on a TV program that Japan should have
the option of launching an overseas strike if it is clear
an enemy is poised to attack. North Korea test-fired
seven ballistic missiles Wednesday, including a
Taepodong-2, a model that is believed to have a design
range that puts the U.S. mainland within its reach.

In January 2003, then Defense Agency Director General
Shigeru Ishiba stirred controversy with comments about a
pre-emptive strike on North Korea, saying Japan can ask
the U.S. to attack the North's missile bases if Pyongyang
appears bent on an attack on Japan and is preparing for
such hostility. As for Tokyo's tough stance against North
Korea's missile tests, Abe also said Monday there is no
surprise that Japan is on the alert. "We are of the
belief that North Korea's missile launches pose a positive
threat to Japan and the surrounding areas," he said. (JT
& agencies)