Political Risk Analysis - N. Korean Weapons Tests To Spur Regional Arms Race - NOV 2017

BMI View: North Korea ' s advances in missile and nuclear tests are likely to prompt Japan and South Korea to bolster their own militaries, accelerating a regional arms race with China. Over the long term, Tokyo and Seoul could even decide to acquire nuclear weapons.

North Korea's repeated tests of ballistic missiles (most recently on September 15, once again overflying northern Japan) and nuclear weapons will prompt Japan and South Korea to bolster their own armed forces, because the two countries would bear the brunt of Pyongyang's firepower in the event of a new Korean war ( see ' Korea Conflict Scenario: Assessing Global Economic Implications ' , August 16, 2017). Given that China has been rapidly modernising its military since the 2000s, fears Japan's remilitarisation, and opposes the presence of the US's THAAD missile defence system in South Korea, the scene is being set for a major arms race in North East Asia. Meanwhile, although the US Trump administration has reaffirmed the American commitment to defend South Korea and Japan from external attack, Trump's more self-interested rhetoric in the 2016 election campaign and apparent volatility will encourage Seoul and Tokyo to become more militarily self-reliant going forward. Over the long term (i.e. five to ten years), this could result in both moving to acquire their own nuclear arms.

Japan Likely To Move In A More Hawkish Direction

In The Line Of Fire
Regional Conflict Zone (AB/NB = Air/Naval Base)

This article is part of our China & North East Asia coverage. To access this article subscribe now or sign up for free trial