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Politics

N. Korea problem 'for us to manage': Armitage

ex-US Deputy Sec. of State says starting a war would be 'akin to suicide' for Kim Jong Un

Joseph Nye, left, former Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, speaks with Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of state under President George W. Bush at the CSIS/Nikkei symposium in Tokyo on Oct. 27.

TOKYO -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who is threatening his neighbors and adversaries with missile and nuclear tests, "is not crazy" and will not initiate hostilities lightly, said Richard Armitage, former U.S. deputy secretary of state, at a symposium in Tokyo on Friday.

Speaking at 14th CSIS/Nikkei Symposium, Armitage said, "Any sensible person would be worried about North Korea." But, he added, "Kim Jong Un is not crazy. Kim Jong Un is not suicidal."  He also stated that it is not a crisis, but a "problem for us to manage."

"I think the government of South Korea and the government of the United States [have] made very clear what would happen if Kim Jong Un were to initiate hostilities," he said. "That would be akin to suicide for Kim Jong Un."

Joseph Nye, former Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, who joined the panel discussion with Armitage, said he thinks Trump mentioned using force "as a way to try to improve the U.S. bargaining position."

Nye pointed out that North Korea has continued testing missiles and nuclear bombs despite repeated condemnation from the international community. He suggested that "making clear that continuation of tests means the end of North Korea's fuel and food," would grab the country's attention.

Turning to the South China Sea, Nye called Chinese behavior in the area a problem and said the world should be "reacting strongly." The U.S. should not only be conducting "freedom of navigation operations, sailing through those claims, but [also] organizing other countries to make China see that it is the odd country out," he said.

"We should surround China, not just with military operations but with pressure to make China lose soft power, to lose face," by collaborating with nations such as Australia, India and European countries, Nye said.

Masahiko Komura, Vice-President of Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, speaks at CSIS/Nikkei Symposium on Oct. 27.

The question of proposed changes to Japan's pacifist constitution, particularly Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's election promise to revise the war-renouncing Article 9 to legitimize the Self-Defense Forces, was also mentioned at the symposium.

Masahiko Komura, former foreign minister and current vice president of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, said in a speech that he wants to move forward with constitutional reform, together with other political parties. Komura mentioned both the LDP's coalition partner, Komeito, and opposition parties, saying, "I want Komeito, Nippon Ishin, as well as Kibo no To (Party of Hope) and the Constitutional Democratic Party, hopefully, to work together."

The symposium, titled, "The Japan-U.S. Alliance in the Trump Era," was organized by Nikkei and the Center for Strategic International Studies. 

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