North Korea – triumph of the weak?
Speakers: Jo Kraft, founder, Rorschach Advisory; Anna Fifield, Tokyo bureau chief, Washington Post
When: November 28 8-930am
Where: La Belle Epoque restaurant, private room
Hotel Okura Tokyo2-10-4 Toranomon, Minato-ku,Tokyo 105-0001, JapanTel +81-3-3582-0111
Cost: 7,000 yen (Full American breakfast with juice, pastries, etc will be served).
At this breakfast salon, we are fortunate to have Jo Kraft, an expert on international business and politics. Jo is not an academic but is effective in giving his listeners an insider’s sense of what options allied policy makers are discussing.
With superb Japanese skills, Jo has been in Japan for several decades and has developed a network of contact in embassies and ministries which he uses to help his clients plan for the future.
We are also pleased to welcome Anna Fifield. As bureau chief, Anna obviously knows Japan. But Anna was also stationed in Seoul in the mid-2000s for 3 years for the Financial Times, a period which included several trips to Pyongyang. Having covered the Middle East as well, Anna has developed a knack for deciphering closed-off communities. Her thorough knowledge of the region will complement Jo.
Coming soon after Trump’s visit to to Japan, the timing is right to assess the threat Tokyo is facing, including the nuclear angle.
Jo will give a more realistic analysis than you will be able to find in most the Japanese media, where the main message is the closeness of US-Japan relations.
North Korea has a GDP of less than $40 billion dollars. Yet its leaders have brought fear to Japan, China, South Korea, the US and Russia, with a combined GDP of almost $30 trillion.
The situation is remarkable, but not unique. Tiny Serbia in 1914 triggered WW1 with just one assassination. In a similar vein, the delicate balance between hostile giants could be tilted by the DPRK.
Expats in Japan appear to be trapped in a situation where an unpredictable and all-powerful US president could decide that Japanese and Korean casualtie are unimportant, should his electoral base require a demonstration of power, or should he wish to divert attention from investigations by US agencies into the US election.
Prime Minister Abe appears to be so far in Trump’s camp that it is hard to see him defusing tension – especially as he made his political career on anti-North Korean rhetoric.
The US had no choice but to live with a powerful nuclearized Soviet Union. But President Trump might decide that it makes more sense to attack North Korea before it develops the capability to accurately strike the US.
Such a move would be economic madness – wretched North Korea can be pacified for a fraction of the cost of armed conflict. The Kim regime wants to survive. The country does not pose a physical or an ideological threat. It is not linked to terrorist attacks.
But incredibly, the US, South Korea and Japan have lost the initiative to the DPRK. After failing to win the Korean war in the 1950s despite up to 4 million dead and risking nuclear confrontation with China, the allies also failed to win the peace. The DPRK has become “anti-fragile” to use Nicholas Taleb’s term. The higher the stakes, the more evident it is that the DPRK is winning this asymmetric confrontation.
Any manager wishing to understand the how the most powerful countries in the world got themselves into this humiliating and dangerous position should attend this event.