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Japan policy chief likens NKorea threat to Cuban crisis

AFP | November 1 2006

Japan's ruling party policy chief on Wednesday likened the threat from North Korea to the 1960s Cuban Missile Crisis, warning that Japan and the United States would be Pyongyang's top missile targets.

North Korea's nuclear program poses "a grave threat specifically targeted at Japan and the United States," said Shoichi Nakagawa, policy chief of the Liberal Democratic Party.

"Now the country has the will and is beginning to have the capability (to launch nuclear weapons). And where they intend to launch them, that is not China nor Russia nor their brother South Korea.

"It is, to my regret, Japan and the United States," he said.

Nakagawa said that when he met several US politicians in Washington last week he suggested to them that the North Korean issue was quite similar to the 1962 confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States over the Soviet deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba.

He also reiterated his view that Japan needs to discuss whether to go nuclear following Pyongyang's October 9 atom bomb test.

"I'm saying the nuclear debate is necessary because the other side (North Korea) says they have nuclear weapons," he said.

He said Pyongyang's announcement Wednesday that it would return to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks "could be a means of earning time".

Nakagawa, who was given his influential post by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in September, is a tough-talking hawk known for not mincing his words.

Abe strongly supports revising the constitution to give Japan a more active military role but has repeatedly ruled out discussing the nuclear option.

The Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were obliterated by US nuclear bombs at the end of World War II that killed more than 210,000 people.

US officials, including US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have said there is no need for Japan to arm itself with nuclear weapons because of the long-standing US commitment to provide security for Japan.


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