Chosun Joongang Communcations, North Korea’s only broadcasting station, announced that North Korea has succeeded in carrying out a third nuclear test on February 12th. This public release has initiated different responses and diplomatic measures from each neighboring country and nuclear power states. Former Presdient of South Korea, Lee Myungbak, has described the period of tolerating North Korea’s changes as “the lost ten years.” South Korean government is now issuing two new methods of standing in North Korea’s path. One is to launch a preemptive attack. Kim Gwangjin, Minister of the National Defense, announced that “If there is any sign of North Korea using Nuclear weapons, we will strike first.” Another plan is the “Regime Change” approach, where the leader of North Korea is separated from the citizens, and a down-up reform is conducted amongst the people.
Vasily Mikheev, Russian expert on China and Korea at IMEMO (Institute of World Economy and International Relations), believes that changing North Korea into a market economy is the most definite way to solve nuclear problems. “In order to achieve this, we must first focus on changing the North Korean authoritatives’ way of thinking,” says Mikheev. China, on the other hand, is more worried about their relationship with North Korea. Although China has been financially and politcally supportive towards North Korea throughout the past years, their nuclear tests now prove that there has been little connection. The Chinese governments have shown concerns towards the link between South Korea and North Korea, disturbed about the possibility of a reunification in the Korean Peninsula and a stronger neighboring country as a result. Consequently, in controlling North Korea’s nuclear technology, China is looking over pairing up with the U.S. instead of South Korea.
On the 22nd of February, the Japanese celebrated “Takeshima Day” in Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture, for the purpose of claiming the rights to the islands. This day was created in 2005, and this year’s anniversary was even more of a controversy because it was the first for a government officer (Shimajiri Aiko, parliamentary secretary of Cabinet Office) to attend. Twenty-one Assemblymen participated as well, which practically made Takeshima Day an official governmental function. The right-wing organizations who came that day cheered on with support, jeered at the idea of a Korea-Japan relationship, and later that day yelled chants all around the city of Matsue, where no police were seen.
Ever since the reelection of Abe as Prime Minister, Abe has been bringing many conservative ideas to the office. One of his main political moves is to rewrite the history of Japan and erase written content that implies any Japanese imperialistic invasion. Abe is also trying to alter Article 9 of the 1947 Constitution, which forbids Japan from creating any form of armed force, in order to expand their “Self Defense” forces. Following the lead of the Prime Minister, a rightist wave is spreading across the whole of Japan, and a rise of severe nationalism is to be expected, according to the international media. Harvard Professor Joseph Nye believes that the Japanese are trying to regain their confidence as compensation for the last 20 years of slow economic growth. Gono, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, stated that “Not only Asia, but the U.S and Europe will also take heed of Japan and their human rights consciousness, and Japan will lose trust overseas.”
In Las Vegas, on the 29th of January, President Barack Obama gave a speech regarding an immigration reform in the U.S. and explained why it must be passed in 2013. Approximately 11 million immigrants have entered illegally into the U.S., and this bulky social problem has finally been brought to the light by both the President and Senators together. The main components of President Obama’s idea of immigration reform are as follows: to allow all current illegal immigrants to register for citizenship, to reinforce the U.S. borderlines, and to loosen the system of legal immigration to attract or keep in potentially highly-skilled foreign workers. Due to VISA complications, many international graduates of the U.S.’s prestigious universities must return to their homeland. Although more foreign workers flowing into the country will make it harder for native born graduates to find a job, Obama believes that these foreign human resources will contribute to a creation of more jobs in the long run. One out of four hi-tech companies are established by immigrants in the U.S. today, thus this reform will be socially and economically profitable.
While a wave of optimism and welcoming can be seen in the media regarding the hope of reform, some stand skeptical about the hubbub. In the re-election, 71% of Hispanics voted for Obama, who had promised immigration reform since 2008, when at a similar period, Romney was heard wishing that immigrants would “self-deport” themselves out of the country. Through this mistake, the Republicans felt the desperate need to comply with the voices of the invisible foreigners, and a bipartisan agreement with Obama’s reform was their salvation. As miraculous as the cooperation between both parties is, the media is leaving no room for concrete criticism about the actual details of the President and Senators’ proposal as they are busy contemplating the “bipartisan” more than the “agreement.” People need to focus on the practicality and fairness of handing out citizenships to illegal immigrants, which may become an unjustifiable amnesty for legal immigrants, and other possible drawbacks of the reform.