In 1998 and in 2006, North Korea conducted ballistic missile tests that landed dangerously close to Japan. In the first case, the North Korean tests provoked only Japanese alarm and severely constrained action. In the second, the tests led to unilateral economic sanctions – the first time since the end of the Second World War that Japan has used coercion against a neighboring state. What explains this dramatic shift in policy choice?
Seung Hyok Lee argues that the 2006 sanctions were not a strategic response to the missile tests, but a reflection of changing public attitudes towards North Korea – the result of the shocking revelation that the North Koreans had abducted at least seventeen Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 80s and secretly held them prisoner for decades. Japanese Society and the Politics of the North Korean Threat is the first book on this development in English and a valuable case study of public opinion’s increasing influence on Japanese security policy.