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Japanese tanks during a live fire exercise near Mount Fuji in August, 2018. Photo: Bloomberg

North Korea claims Japan wants to become ‘military giant’ and is planning ‘re-invasion’

Pyongyang says Tokyo’s cooperation with foreign militaries will bring ‘incredible disaster’ to the whole world, as Japan prepares for the first drills involving British troops on its soil

North Korea

North Korean state media has cited upcoming joint Japanese and British military exercises as evidence Tokyo is preparing for “re-invasion”, presumably of the Korean peninsula.

The 12-day exercises are expected to start on Sunday at the Ground Self-Defence Forces’ Camp Fuji, west of Tokyo, and will be the first time British ground units have taken part in manoeuvres on Japanese soil.

The exercises will include troops being deployed from Chinook helicopters, reconnaissance drills and simulated artillery strikes. The British government has said the military collaboration is designed to strengthen the bilateral security relationship following port visits by two British warships – the frigate HMS Sutherland and HMS Albion, an amphibious assault ship – earlier this year.

Britain’s HMS Albion docked in Vietnam on September 3, 2018. Photo: EPA

Both vessels took part in exercises with their Japanese counterparts, as well as “monitoring” ships in waters surrounding the Korean peninsula that were suspected of being involved in efforts to sidestep UN sanctions on the transfer of banned goods to North Korea by trans-shipping cargoes at sea.

The state-run Minju Joson newspaper on Tuesday claimed the exercises demonstrated Japan was “laying a foundation for legalising the overseas advance of the SDF” by strengthening its military alliances with other countries.

Military vehicles in the loading dock of the HMS Albion at Harumi Pier in Tokyo in August, 2018. Photo: Reuters

“It is a crafty calculation of the Japanese reactionaries that military cooperation with forces of not only the US but also other countries is needed for Japan to join in any possible multinational military operations and play a considerable role in them,” it said.

“Their fever for re-invasion has reached the highest. The reality foretells that if Japan’s reckless moves for conversion into a military giant and overseas expansion are overlooked, incredible disaster will be brought to Northeast Asia and the rest of the world.”

Japan Ground Self Defence Force members take part in an urban warfare drill with US soldiers near Mount Fuji in September, 2017. Photo: Reuters

The US and Japan – which colonised the Korean peninsula between 1910 and 1945 – have long been a target of hostility in North Korean media. Britain has also been criticised since announcing it would be seeking a closer security relationship with Tokyo and backing Japan’s firm line on the question of North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile programmes.

In April, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Until North Korea matches its words with concrete actions, the UK will continue to work closely with partners and allies to keep up the pressure and strictly enforce existing sanctions, ensuring not only regional security but that of the UK as well.”

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In late 2017, Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency accused British defence minister at the time Michael Fallon of making a “reckless remark” by warning “the nuclear dangers are intensifying from a reckless North Korea”.

Earlier this year, North Korea warned Britain it “faces a miserable end” if it joined annual drills carried out by the US and South Korea, as well as being one of the “despicable burlesque of losers” defeated by Pyongyang’s forces in the 1950-53 Korean war.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Pyongyang blasts joint UK-Japan military drills