This is the Twitter Tweet that got, well, a bit of a reaction.
PM Kan says he would consider dispatching the Self Defense Forces to North Korea to rescue #Japanese abductees.One of those times the Twitter 140 character limit just doesn't cut it, fellows.
Here's the original story, (in Japanese). The first line:
菅首相は１０日夜、朝鮮半島有事が起きた場合、北朝鮮による拉致被害者の救出のため、自衛隊派遣の可能性を政府内で検討していることを明らかにした。reads that "on the evening of the 10th, Prime Minister Kan stated that in the event of an emergency on the Korean Peninsula, to remove (rescue) those Japanese abductees still in North Korea, the administration is considering if the deployment of the Self-Defense Forces is possible."
What wasn't Tweetted, but is further in the original article, is that Kan-souri was addressing the families of abductees at a meeting in Toukyou (Tokyo), and that he was rather round-about in his speaking... almost thinking aloud as to possibilities.
Very good, that. Open to possibilities in a crisis, and all that.
Mr. Kan spoke more on the subject of SDF dispatch to Korea at noon today (local time). This report kicks off with a whole different matter (in Japanese):
菅首相は１１日昼、朝鮮半島有事が起きた場合、在韓邦人救出のための自衛隊の現地派遣を実現するため、韓国政府と協議を開始する意向を表明した。This is a whole 'nother kettle of fish. It generally says that "On the 11th, at noon, Prime Minister Kan stated that in the event of a crisis on the Korean Peninsula, the SDF should be deployed to evacuate (implied: Japanese-national) residents, and discussions with the government of the Republic of Korea are to start (will start? an open potential) to make this possible."
That's a pretty big jump forward if the Lee administration in the ROK is willing to go along with even this level of let's-be-honest-about-what-it-is military cooperation between the two countries.
This was at a Press Call, by the way, so no explaining it by guessing it was tailored to an audience. He also (in the body of the article) mentioned both his awareness of the sensitivity that Korean people have as to the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and that this matter will require some legal changes to the Self-Defense Force Law(s) were it to come to be. No surprise, that last. The SDF basically has to ask legal authorization from the kokkai (Parliament) for any deployment or irregular activity and this situation probably couldn't be considered covered by the Emergency authority of the naikaku (Cabinet; the whole thereof functioning as national Executive).
Very, very promising.
Here's hoping it wasn't just a politician playing with words again.
Bad news: The South Koreans were "rather surprised" by Kan's comments. There was no consultation with ROK officials before he spoke.
The remarks have been labeled "unrealistic".
UPDATE 13.Dec (local time)
Japan is not exploring the possibility of dispatching the Self-Defense Forces to the Korean Peninsula to rescue Japanese nationals in case of contingencies, the top government spokesman said Monday, taking back Prime Minister Naoto Kan's remarks last week.source - Kyoudou (Kyodo) wire service.
"There is absolutely no such plan. Therefore there are no talks (with South Korea)," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said at a news conference.
Why is it that every time I hear Y. Sengoku open his mouth on a foreign affairs matter, I hear him saying what he thinks the P.R.C. wants to hear? This man is clearly a weak link in the Cabinet, but for some reason N. Kan believes he can't run things without him.
That may well have to change.