Wednesday, December 12, 2012

OT: North Korean "Missile" Launch or "Rocket" Launch?

On one hand, it is good that many Japanese now doubt some of the things (not all, by any means) that their government and the mass media tell them. On the other hand, the same people still truly believe that the foreign media is unbiased and reports only the truth, and that the foreign media will report what the Japanese counterpart will never report.

The latest manifestation of this belief is over the launch of a satellite by North Korea on December 11. Twitter was abuzz almost right away, refuting the Japanese government's announcement that a "missile" was launched, or the government's characterization that it was "effectively a ballistic missile technology". The Japanese media duly reported as such.

People indignantly tweeted, "See how deceptive they are. None of the foreign media is reporting it as "missile". They all say "rocket". See how our government twists the fact and tries to incite nationalistic fervor! We can't trust the Japanese media at all!"

It's a beautiful narrative that fits what has transpired since March 2011. It seems people's focus is purely on semantics not substance, and the fact that the Japanese government called it a "missile" while every sane nation and media in the world called it a "rocket", therefore the Japanese government is a liar who cannot be trusted. The meme is still going strong today.

I don't know what "foreign media" they were looking at, but clearly not these:

Huffington Post quoting AP: White House: North Korea Missile Launch 'Highly Provocative'

ABC News: ANALYSIS: North Korean Missile Hits Its Target of Alarming the World

USA Today: U.S. condemns North Korea missile launch

The Atlantic: North Korea's Missile Launch: The Winners and Losers

And the White House: Statement from NSC Spokesman Tommy Vietor on North Korea’s Missile Launch

Here is the "rocket" camp:

Wall Street Journal: North Korea Claims Success in Rocket Launch [with the sub-headline saying "U.S. Confirms Object Reached Orbit; Pyongyang's Effort Is Seen as Provocation and Advancement of Missile Program"

CBS News: North Korea successfully launches long-range rocket

BBC: UN Security Council condemns North Korea rocket launch

North American Aerospace Defense Command seems to think it was "missile" From CBS News:

In a written statement, North American Aerospace Defense Command officials "acknowledged today that U.S. missile warning systems detected and tracked the launch of a North Korean missile at 7:49 p.m. EST...Initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit. At no time was the missile or the resultant debris a threat to North America."

Since the Japanese like the United Nation, what did they think?

The United Nation's Security Council seems to consider it as missile. From BBC:

The UN Security Council has condemned North Korea for launching a missile in defiance of a UN resolution.

The Council president, Moroccan ambassador Mohammed Loulichk, described the launch as "a clear violation of Security Council resolutions".

The US says Pyongyang will face "consequences" for the launch, calling it a "highly provocative act that threatens regional security".

The US and its allies view the launch as a disguised ballistic missile test

They hear what they want to hear, they see what they want to see. That's not just a Japanese phenomenon, but it's very pronounced in Japan. At least part of the reason may be their general lack of English language ability. When someone says "None of the foreign media said it was a missile, and the Japanese government lied", the comment is taken as the truth, coming from someone who must have checked all the foreign sources, and it takes on a life of its own and spread.


Anonymous said...

Everybody everywhere makes shit up, all the time.

Atomfritz said...

Very, very detailed info here:

By the way, the article uses neither the words "rocket" nor "missile", except in quotes.

Anonymous said...

Rockets are by their nature dual use. Any nation that can launch a satellite or space vehicle also has the capability to put a weapon on that rocket. So any peaceful launch of a communications satellite, by any country, can be construed as a "provocation." It all goes back to the hypocrisy of the UN Security Council members, all of them nuclear weapons states who refuse to disarm, telling the rest of the world they can't have nuclear weapons. I have no sympathy for North Korea, but really, is their attitude surprising?

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Now, Japanese people on Twitter are seeing profound political and philosophical meaning in "rocket" and "missile" - anyone who reports "rocket" is peaceful and good, anyone who reports "missile" is war-monger and bad.

Naivete hurts, given Japan's geographical location.

Trifou said...

Even US. launchers were initially former ICBM rockets like the Atlas series

Anonymous said...

The fact that North Korea has an ICBM and nuclear weapons doesn't mean it has the ability to join the two together or put them on target. NK has only tested a couple of crude first generation warhead designs the US and USSR had years of unhindered nuclear testing to refine their designs into packages that could be delivered by missile. If the satellite is spinning out of control then NK has a long way to go before they are a credible threat. Also everyone assumes that China would protect North Korea if they launched an EMP attack against the US or Japan this couldn't be further from the truth. Japan and the US owe China a huge amount of money and they are their largest trading partners. As a permanent member of the UN security council China would be obligated to respond to an unprovoked nuclear attack from a non-member state. Look how the US reacted when a few buildings were toppled by a handful of camel jockeys how do you think they will respond to a nuclear attack from a hard target? North Korea and probably a good portion of South Korea will cease to exist because while the US infrastructure may be at the mercy of EMP our far flung weapons systems aren't.

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