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How Japan can get Pyongyang’s attention

10 8 0

Who is the biggest threat to Japan right now — Kim Jong Un or Donald Trump? Welcome to Shinzo Abe’s hell, as he grapples with two erratic leaders vying for his attention.

The U.S. president has Abe’s loyalty. Abe’s sprint to Trump Tower shortly after the New Yorker’s shock election in November won the prime minister a place in his heart. And, hopefully, a reprieve on Trump’s itchy trade-war finger. But the North Korean leader is winning the news cycle, most recently with an intercontinental ballistic missile that may have landed within 200 nautical miles of Japan’s coast. That trolled Trump to give Xi Jinping the Jeff Sessions treatment on Twitter.

Trump berating China’s president for inaction in ways reminiscent of his 140-character attacks on U.S. Attorney General Sessions won’t work. Xi knows he’ll be at the helm long after the Trump circus leaves Washington and historians file it under “cautionary tales.” But here’s something that might work: Abe trolling Beijing into docking Kim’s allowance. Not via tweets, but by announcing Japan will host a series of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems.

That would serve two purposes. The first, obviously, is basic survival. Japan already has a two-step missile defense shield, but Pyongyang’s steady progress on ICBM capabilities calls for........

© The Japan Times