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Asia on Edge After North Korean Missile Brushes Japan

Asia on Edge After North Korean
Courtesy of Seung-il Ryu/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

North Korea Wednesday fired a ballistic missile that landed in Japanese territorial waters. Nobody was killed or injured. But the move is certain to further increase political tensions in an Asian region that is already tense.

North Korea is banned from developing nuclear and ballistic missile technology, according to a United Nations resolution. But it has repeatedly flouted the bans despite international sanctions that have weakened the economy of the largely isolated nation.

The missile firing may be part of North Korea’s response to last month’s decision by South Korea to deploy U.S.-made THAAD anti-missile missiles. North Korea has fired several in recent weeks.

Both the U.S. and South Korea have condemned the latest firing. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was reported to have described the missile shot as demonstrating “(North Korea’s) ambition to attack neighboring countries.” The reaction of China, North Korea’s only ally, and Asia’s superpower, is currently unknown.

Political tensions in Asia have been stirred by the recent Hague ruling against China over economic activity in the South China Sea and by the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

The effect of the rising political tension has already spilled over into the region’s entertainment industry. Rising nationalism recently caused one Chinese film “No Other Love” to dump its Taiwanese male lead. It also appears that China is taking reprisals against South Korea for its THAAD decision by restricting Korean coproductions and the hiring of Korean stars in Chinese movies and TV shows.