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Cablegate: Media Reaction Q North Korea - Tokyo

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DE RUEHKO #4899 2400243
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280243Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5790
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
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RUHBANB/OKINAWA FLD OFC US FORCES JAPAN CP BUTLER JA PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMUSJAPAN YOKOTA AB JA PRIORITY
INFO RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 7826
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 1164
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 3944
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1210
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0076
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1756
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS TOKYO 004899

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR I/RF, PA/PR/FPC/W, IIP/G/EA, EAP/PD, R/MR,
EAP/J, EAP/P, PM;
USTR FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE;
TREASURY FOR OASIA/IMI;
SECDEF FOR OASD/PA;
CP BUTLER OKINAWA FOR AREA FIELD OFFICE;
PACOM HONOLULU FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ADVISOR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KMDR KPAO JA
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION Q NORTH KOREA - TOKYO


LEAD STORIES: Most Monday morning papers front-paged
reports from Seoul regarding a proposal made by Secretary
of Defense Rumsfeld to return wartime operational control
of ROK troops to Seoul in 2009.

1. "North Korea: The Fate of Military-First Policy" The
moderate Tokyo Shimbun editorialized (8/27): "It has been
nearly two months since North Korea launched a barrage of
ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan. With rumors
that Pyongyang will soon conduct an underground nuclear
test, it seems that North Korea is placing even more
emphasis on its policy of giving the greatest priority to
the country's military. Within these moves can be seen
the limits of dictatorship as a system of government. It
appears that the missile launches were a major
miscalculation on the part of Kim Jong Il.... Kim was
surprised by the strong US reaction that the launches
elicited, as the aim was to get the US to lift its
financial sanctions on Pyongyang. The Bush
administration, however, has not shown any signs of
complying with the DPRK's call for direct talks....

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2. "The North Korean economy is on the brink of collapse.
'Military first' of course means that economic
development and public welfare are put on the backburner,
and the massive floods this summer have only deepened the
people's dissatisfaction with the regime. Nuclear weapons
and missiles are the only tools Kim has at his disposal
for riding out these crises at home and abroad....
Although North Korea has the option of returning to the
six-party talks in an effort to buy time, neighboring
countries are taking a much more severe view of the DPRK
than in the past; continuing isolation could threaten the
regime's survival. The recent missile launches have
proved one thing -- that Pyongyang's brinkmanship no
longer works. The international community is watching
closely to see what Kim Jong Il does next."

DONOVAN

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