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Pacific News Minute: N. Korean Missile Launch and Jet Encounter Builds Tension in East Asia

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

While today's expected decision on the legality of China's territorial claims has focused attention on the South China Sea, tensions are also building at two other hotspots in East Asia, as we hear from Neal Conan in Today's Pacific News Minute.

After several quiet months, the area around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea has flared up again.  In May, a Chinese frigate entered waters claimed by both China and Japan.  China's sent fishing boats and Coast Guard vessels there before, but never a warship...then, in June, Chinese and Japanese fighter jets tangled over that same area.  A Chinese Military Website claimed that Japanese F-15Js targeted the Chinese planes with fire control radar- a senior Japanese official denied that- use of fire control radars would have been highly provocative.

But tensions are even higher in Korea...on Saturday, North Korea defied Security Council resolutions yet again, when it test fired a missile…this time, from a submarine.  South Korean sources said the missile successfully cleared the submarine's launch tube but then exploded mid flight just a few miles down range.

That followed Friday's announcement, on agreement between South Korea and the US to deploy an advanced anti-ballistic missile defense system in South Korea.  THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) includes a powerful radar to detect missile launches- both Beijing and Moscow protest that it's capabilities are much greater than needed for North Korea alone, that it will reach deep inside China and Russia as well.  On Sunday, North Korea itself denounced THAAD as part of the US plan for "world domination"  and vowed a physical counter action.

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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