In Japan, the sirens had just stopped when the White House reacted to the most dangerous maneuver since 2017. Kim Jong-Un, the North Korean nuclear dictator, had chased a long-range missile through Japanese airspace and dropped it into the Pacific east of the island state. It was just before midnight in Washington. A spokesman for the National Security Council criticized the North Korean sovereign’s “destabilizing action” as “irresponsible and dangerous”.
Jake Sullivan, who, as the head of security for the president of the United States, will likely get little sleep due to Moscow’s nuclear threats, had already sat down on the phone. He spoke to his Japanese counterpart Akiba Takeo and his South Korean counterpart Kim Sung-han. South Korea has also reported a missile launch from its North Korean neighbor.
Pacific powder magazine
What the American assured in the night conversation makes it clear how close the world is to further escalation. Jake Sullivan has made it clear that if Japan is attacked, the United States will come to the rescue militarily. What sounds like a reassuring peacetime issue can, if in doubt, escalate into a massive armed conflict on China’s doorstep.
There has been a security treaty between the US and Japan since the 1950s, which has been renewed over and over again. Among other things, it rules that American land, air and sea forces may be stationed on Japanese soil. In order to be able to provide rapid assistance in the event of an attack by a power hostile to Japan, the United States has more military on the ground than in any other country on earth. More than 60,000 troops are stationed in Japan alone. Neighboring South Korea in the Pacific has about 30,000 more. By way of comparison: some 50,000 Americans are stationed in Germany. It is not just about defending Japan, but also about protecting American interests in the Pacific, primarily vis-à-vis China.