Japanese Prime Minister Abe Wins Big Election Victory

It appears that the Japanese public supports Prime Minister Abe’s attempts to strengthen the defense force, modify the pacifist constitution, and take a hard-line with North Korea based on the recent election results:

Japan’s ruling coalition appeared headed to an impressive win in national elections on Sunday, in what would represent at least a partial comeback for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

A victory would boost Abe’s chances of winning another three-year term next September as leader of the Liberal Democratic Party. That could extend his premiership to 2021, giving him more time to try to win a reluctant public over to his longtime goal of revising Japan’s pacifist constitution.

In the immediate term, a victory likely means a continuation of the policies Abe has pursued in the nearly five years since he took office in December 2012 — a hard line on North Korea, close ties with Washington, including defense, as well as a super-loose monetary policy and push for nuclear energy.  [Stars and Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but it looks like the “bromance” that President Trump and Prime Minister Abe have will continue.

USFK Says THAAD Battery Deployment Now Fully Complete

The deployment of THAAD to South Korea which the ROK government has called temporary has now been fully completed according to USFK:

This file photo, taken Sept. 12, 2017, shows a launcher of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system being positioned at a U.S. military base in Seongju, 300 kilometers south of Seoul. The U.S. Army, which transported four additional THAAD launchers to the base Sept. 7, has installed them there and is ready to operate them, along with two of the six THAAD launchers previously installed.

The U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) said Sunday it has officially set up the unit charged with operating the advanced missile defense system deployed in the country.

A ceremony was held in the southeastern county of Seongju on Thursday to transfer the Delta Battery of the 11th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Brigade in Fort Bliss, Texas, to the 35th ADA Brigade in South Korea, official sources said.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery, which has missile launchers, command and control facilities and a powerful radar, was first deployed in April as part of the Global Response Force amid growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. At the time there were two interceptor launchers stationed in the rural county. Four more were added last month.

In September, South Korea announced that the deployment of a THAAD battery in the county had been completed in a “tentative” step to counter threats from North Korea. The battery has been operational, but the military unit and manpower operating it has not fully been in place.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

President Moon Decides to Move Forward with Construction of Two More Nuclear Reactors

President Moon showing his political skills was able to have his cake and eat it to when it came to back tracking from his campaign pledge to stop construction of nuclear reactors in Korea:

The construction site of the Shin Kori 5 and 6 units in Ulsan, 414 kilometers south of Seoul, is shown in this picture taken on Oct. 20, 2017. (Yonhap)

President Moon Jae-in vowed to enhance the safety of nuclear reactors Sunday, accepting the recent recommendation by a public debate commission to resume the construction of two new nuclear reactors that he earlier promised to scrap.

“The government will quickly resume the construction of the Shin Kori-5 and Shin Kori-6 nuclear reactors in accordance with the outcome of the debate,” the president said in a statement released by the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

The remarks came two days after the state commission, following its three-month deliberation process, recommended the two unfinished nuclear reactors be completed and put in operation.

The public debate began in July after the president agreed to first find out what the general public wished to do with the two new nuclear reactors whose construction already began in 2016.

Moon urged his supporters, as well as those who are in favor of building a nuclear energy-free nation, to accept the outcome of the public review that involved 471 citizens and experts representing both sides.

“I believe democracy becomes perfect when people have the right to discuss, and when they accept the outcome of such discussions. I also ask those who supported my election pledge to halt the construction to respect and accept the public debate commission’s recommendation,” the chief executive said.

The president said the government will instead work to ensure the safety of nuclear power plants, noting the Shin Kori reactors in Uljin will put the total number of reactors in the southeastern part of the country to 15, with millions of people to be within a 30-kilometer radius of these facilities.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but my concern about nuclear reactors in South Korea is how resilient are they to missile attack from North Korea? I really hope that was considered when these plants were built.  I also wonder what the impact is to the power grid if these plants have to be shut down in response to a possible crisis with North Korea?  How many people will be without power?  Are there enough back generators for hospitals and other key facilities if this was to happen?  Hopefully someone in the ROK government has thought these issues through.

Former CIA Analyst Recommends President Trump to Not Visit the DMZ

Here is the latest call for President Trump to not visit the DMZ:

Sue Mi Terry

North Korea could feel threatened if U.S. President Donald Trump visits the demilitarized zone on the inter-Korean border next month, a U.S. expert said Friday.

Trump could include a trip to the buffer zone dividing South and North Korea when he visits Seoul from Nov. 7-8, according to news reports. There are concerns it could provoke Pyongyang amid high tensions over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

“They’re seeing almost everything as a threat,” Sue Mi Terry, a former Korea analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency, said during a discussion on North Korea.

She noted that Trump has called North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a “Rocket Man” on a suicide mission and threatened to “totally destroy” the country if necessary.

“They already see him as a very provocative person,” she said. “Anything that he does will be continually seen that way.”

Terry voiced strong opposition to the use of military action against North Korea, saying it could have “catastrophic consequences” for the 20 million people living in Seoul.

“I think North Korea will retaliate if there’s a military strike,” she said. “In this ‘track 2’ meeting I had with North Koreans, they emphasized that they didn’t go through this level of pain that they had gone through to acquire nuclear weapons — spending millions of dollars — just to be able to, to paraphrase their own words: ‘We’re not just going to perish without being able to use them if we think the attack for regime change is coming.'”  [Yonhap]

Ms. Terry is a smart person, but I don’t understand her perspective on this.  If President Trump is going to say something provocative during his trip that is going to upset the Kim regime it doesn’t matter if it happens at Panmunjom or during his planned speech to the National Assembly.

As far as her view of being against military action I disagree with.  First of all, I have not heard Trump calling for regime change.  President Trump’s comments about totaling destroying North Korea were made in the context of the US or its allies having to defend itself from a North Korean attack.

Secondly there is this drum beat that any military action against North Korea will lead to the destruction of Seoul which I believe is not accurate.  In my opinion if the US conducted a limited strike against for example their missile manufacturing facilities, this would not lead to the destruction of Seoul that would potentially kill millions of people.  The Kim regime knows destroying Seoul means a regime change war they don’t want.

I believe the Kim regime will respond, but in a more limited fashion that doesn’t lead to full scale war.  Some examples are a limited artillery barrage or ballistic missile attack against US military targets.  A terrorism attack within South Korea or against USFK personnel.  There are many other things the North Koreans could do in response that does not trigger a full war.  After their response the Kim regime can turn to the Chinese and the Russians to help them justify their response to the limited US strike to stop a full scale war from happening.

Reporter Says North Korean Military Officials Watch MSNBC

Considering how misinformed Americans are by watching the 24 hour news networks, can you imagine how misinformed the North Korean leadership would be by watching those channels?:

NBC News correspondent Kier Simmons landed a rare interview with a North Korean military official on Thursday and learned that officials in the communist country watch “Morning Joe” specifically for reports and discussions about their country.

Simmons appeared on the MSNBC show Thursday from the border of North and South Korea to share his recent conversation with a North Korean lieutenant colonel that included his belief that President Trump is “mentally ill” and that his country could prevail over the U.S. in war.

“He quite plainly said he believes President Trump is mentally ill,” Simmons told “Morning Joe” co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough. “And he was unequivocal in saying he believes North Korea could win a war with America.”

“Be it no doubt that the senior officials here pay attention to what is being said in the U.S.,” Simmons added. “One telling me that he watches ‘Morning Joe’ every day specifically for the segments about North Korea.”  [The Hill]

You can read more at the link.

17-Year Old Korean Girl Raped by Step-Grandfather for Six Years; Gives Birth to Two Babies

Something is not adding up with this story.  How did the grandmother not know about the rapes when the teenager gets pregnant twice?:

A man who raped his step-granddaughter over six years has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.The girl had two children as a result, according to court documents.

Suwon District Court said Thursday that the man, identified only as “A,” 53, had raped the girl, “B,” 17, since she was an elementary school student.

The attacks started when the girl moved into his house in 2011.

B is a granddaughter of the woman “A” lived with without official marriage registration. The woman took custody of the victim after her parents divorced.

The man was able to keep his attacks secret because he raped the girl when her grandmother was absent, according to court documents. He also told the girl: “I will kill you if you speak out about this.”

The grandmother learned of the shocking story early this year and reported it to police.

“It’s horrendous and shocking,” the court said. “Even though he has no criminal history, a heavy punishment is inevitable.”

The man claimed sex with the victim was “always consensual” and he did not know about the babies.  [Korea Times]

At least this is another example of how South Korea is giving out longer sentences to rapists.