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  • The Korean War is still the world's  longest-running conflict. Though the  

  • fighting ended through a ceasefire in the summer  of 1953, the warring nations never reached a true  

  • peace treaty. Because of that, North Korea still  officially remains at war. While many might assume  

  • that the South Korean government is the number  one enemy of North Korea, the North Koreans have  

  • a lot of beef with other countries as well. The beef between North Korea and Japan goes  

  • back all the way to the Korean War. During  this time, though Japan did not send combat  

  • troops to the peninsula, the country did  serve as the main logistics base for the  

  • US and other allied forces. UnderstandablyNorth Korea was not too happy about this

  • Straining relations even further with Japan  was the fact that North Korean agents would  

  • routinely go into the country to kidnap Japanese  citizens. Even worse than having its own citizens  

  • kidnapped from their homes is the constant  threat posed by North Korea's ballistic  

  • missiles tests and nuclear weapons programs. These two weapons programs put the safety of  

  • all of East Asia at risk. Japan simply seeks to  remain a peaceful nation especially since after  

  • the end of World War Two the Japanese vowed  to never go to war again. But the North Korean  

  • government does not care about sacred vows, state  sovereignty, or who cares about their provocative  

  • acts. All they care about is regime survival. But in a situation where North Korea finally  

  • crosses the line with Japan, say threatening them  with nuclear weapons or kidnapping the President,  

  • and Japan was to go to war with themwho would win in such a conflict

  • Let's first take a look at what Japan would be  facing in an all-out conflict with North Korea

  • The North Korean military is quite a force  to be reckoned with despite coming from such  

  • a small nation with few natural resources. The  military is known as the Korean People's Army  

  • and is made up of five branches: the  Ground Force, Air Force, Navy, Strategic  

  • Missile Force, and Special Operations Force. Their Ground Force, or army, is one of the largest  

  • in the world coming in at over 950,000 active-duty  personnel. Military service is compulsory in North  

  • Korea meaning every able-bodied man must serve  for ten years and women for seven. Those that  

  • go to college have to serve less. Because of this mandatory service,  

  • there are millions of trained soldiers in what  is called Worker-Peasant Red Guard units. These  

  • units are compulsory for teenagers before they  enter the military and for veterans once they are  

  • discharged. They take on a role much similar to  the US National Guard in that they receive annual  

  • training and assist the military when necessary. The equipment that the army fields is vast and  

  • most of it was manufactured in the 1950s through  the 1970s as either Chinese or Soviet in origin,  

  • with some licenses being granted to produce  local copies of this equipment. For instance,  

  • most North Korean infantrymen are armed  with aging AK-47 rifles and while the North  

  • Korean government claims there has been  significant progress in creating a modern  

  • and wholly North Korean battle rifle there  have been little public indications of such

  • The army also possesses thousands of tanks but  most of these are outdated Soviet technology. One  

  • of their main tanks, the T-54/55 and the T-62, is  decades old and nowhere comparable to the designs  

  • of modern tanks. These same tanks were fielded  by the Iraqi government during both the Gulf  

  • War and 2003 invasion of Iraq and were totally  annihilated against modern tanks and artillery

  • The North Koreans have realized their tank  deficiency and have started a modernization  

  • program to create domestic tanks based on  the T-72 design known as the Chnma-ho and  

  • P'okp'ung-ho. These modern revamps of  old designs include new features like  

  • reactive armor that explodes outwards when  hit and new turrets for grenade launchers  

  • as well as improved fire control systems. The North Korean army also relies heavily on  

  • its vast array of artillery pieces. They possess  thousands of guns in various calibers and they  

  • love their big guns. That is because the smallest  caliber artillery piece is a 122mm gun with their  

  • biggest guns being the massive 170mm guns that  are said to reach almost a range of 40 miles.  

  • It is said that whenever the army engages  in combat the North Koreans want to lay down  

  • a “sea of fireto support their infantry which  means employing them in a classic World War Two  

  • style artillery bombardment which defers from the  precision fires of most of today's militaries

  • The North Korean air force operates almost 800  aircraft spread across various bases with most  

  • of the best fighter jets being concentrated in  the south towards the DMZ. Their aircraft fleet  

  • is primarily Soviet technology with their most  capable air-to-air fighters being the MiG-29  

  • and MiG-30 fighter aircraft. They also possess  potent and combat-tested air-to-ground attack  

  • aircraft like Su-25. The Su-25 was first  designed in 1978 and has proven itself on  

  • multiple battlefields around the world including  the most recent Russian air campaign over Syria

  • Despite their vast fleet, the North Korean air  force does not compare at all to the modern  

  • equipment offered by other militaries around  the world. That is why if the country was  

  • ever attacked the main strategy for the  North is to use its vast array of RADARs  

  • and Surface to Air Missile sites to take down  opposing aircraft before they become a threat

  • The North Korean navy is the smallest of the five  branches coming in at less than 80,000 active-duty  

  • personnel. They operate in two main fleetsthe West coast fleet, and the East Coast fleet.  

  • The kind of vessels they operate are  primarily small patrol craft and frigates  

  • for their surface fleet. This is what is known as  a brown water navy meaning the ships are designed  

  • and operate best close to shore and cannot project  power beyond the relative safety of the shore

  • Where the North Korean navy really  stands out is in its fleet of submarines.  

  • Operating a force of around 72 submarines, it is  one of the largest submarine forces in the world.  

  • Though these submarines are aging, ex-Soviet  technology, they are deadly quiet since they  

  • operate diesel engines. Diesel engines are  quieter than nuclear-powered submarines  

  • though they do have to expose themselves  to the surface to recharge their batteries

  • Once underwater, they are virtually impossible  to detect meaning any surface ships are in great  

  • danger. Their ability to operate effectively  and secretly was demonstrated with deadly  

  • effect in 2010 when a North Korean submarine sunk  a South Korean warship with the loss of 46 lives

  • Of course, the most capable and threatening  part of the North Korean military would be  

  • its ballistic missiles and nuclear weaponsThese long-range weapons are the pride and joy  

  • of the North Korean government. They are meant  to project power abroad and Western military  

  • thinkers believe the North Koreans intend to  use these weapons as a last resort in case  

  • of the catastrophic defeat of the military  or potentially as a crippling first strike

  • Though Japan is out of range of most of the North  Korean medium-range ballistic missile threats,  

  • there are still over 50 missiles that  could be fired at them. In addition,  

  • North Korea is believed to now have  manufactured over 40 nuclear weapons,  

  • though the debate is still out there concerning  their ability to miniaturize them enough to place  

  • them on the warhead of one of these missiles. Facing the North Korean military would be  

  • mighty forces of the Japanese Defense Forces  as their military is known. Ranked as the fifth  

  • most powerful military in the world, this  small yet technologically superior military  

  • is composed of an Army, Air Force, and Navy. The Japanese Army is a feared and much-respected  

  • force around the world. Coming in  at a little over 150,000 personnel,  

  • it is the largest branch of the Japanese militaryThe Army fields some of Asia's most modern and  

  • best equipment like their next-generation Type 10  main battle tank that is equipped with state of  

  • the art armor and gives the crew a full panoramic  view of their surroundings. This tank will  

  • eventually replace the older but still capable  Type 90 tank used in service since the 1990s. 

  • The Japanese also have a robust, home-grown  defense industry that is constantly creating new  

  • and improved weapons for its forces such as the  Type 89 assault rifle which is the standard issue  

  • rifle for its ground troops. The Japanese also  produce a variety of potent anti-aircraft guns  

  • and armored troop transports all modeled off the  US and NATO-style designs to better work together

  • The Japanese Navy is incredibly deadly  as well. They operate a fleet of over 250  

  • ships making their navy the fourth largest in  the world by tonnage. These ships encompass a  

  • wide variety of platforms to include coastal  patrol craft and minesweepers for homeland  

  • defense as well as 26 destroyers and several  helicopter carriers to project power abroad

  • The Japanese navy is also a great asset in  defeating the North Korean missile threat.  

  • Their destroyers are based on the US  Aegis system. Aegis is the world's leading  

  • ballistic missile defense system, combiningseries of high-powered RADARs, illuminators,  

  • and computer programs to accurately detect missile  threats early and defeat them well before they hit  

  • their intended targets. The fact that the  Japanese can deploy over two dozen of these  

  • ships in such a small area like the Sea of Japan  helps nullify the threat to the Japanese homeland

  • The Air Force also works hand-in-hand with  the Navy to defeat North Korean missiles.  

  • The Air Force operates a robust network of RADAR  sites and manned observation posts all throughout  

  • the archipelago. These sites are crucial in  detecting missiles as soon as they launch  

  • and then forwarding that information to deployed  ships and missile batteries stationed at home

  • In addition to their anti-air capabilities, the  Japanese operate one of the most technologically  

  • advanced air fleets in the world. They  boast almost 800 aircraft of which over  

  • 300 are fourth and fifth-generation  fighter aircraft like the F-15 and F-35  

  • Joint Strike Fighter. They also operate several  electronic warfare platforms such as the E-767,  

  • which give the air force an early warning for  airborne threats and can help pass information  

  • more quickly and securely than the North  Koreans who do not possess such a capability

  • In determining who would win in an  all-out war between North Korea and Japan,  

  • it would depend on where it was fought. The most  likely scenario would be an invasion of North  

  • Korea by Japan since the North Korean navy simply  cannot conduct large scale amphibious operations  

  • on foreign shores. The Japanese do have suchcapability in their newly created marine brigade,  

  • designed as a quick reaction force to defend its  far-flung islands, but this of course would have  

  • to be scaled up if they wanted to invade an  entire country and not just a small island

  • But suppose the Japanese were able to scale their  amphibious operations and get their entire army  

  • ashore. Once there, they would be facing an army  almost ten times their size! Not to mention the  

  • millions in reserves that can be brought up. The  only advantage here would be that North Korea  

  • deploys much of its forces in fixed positions  along the DMZ with South Korea. A well-planned  

  • amphibious assault behind all of these defenses  might just give Japan the edge it needs to negate  

  • the obvious advantage in North Korean numbers. Of course, Japan also has the advantage as the  

  • technologically superior force. Their anti-missile  systems would surely protect the homeland and  

  • invasion force from North Korean fire. Their  tanks, planes, and even infantry weapons are  

  • also superior. However, as seen on battlefields of  the past like the Eastern Front in World War Two  

  • even small numbers of vastly superior equipment  will eventually be overcome by sheer numbers.

  • The last factor to consider is the individual  soldiers themselves. In Japan, the military is a  

  • 100 percent volunteer force while in North Korea  the military is forced onto everybody. Once in,  

  • service in North Korea is marked by brutality from  superiors and a chronic lack of food and supplies.  

  • In fact, it is not uncommon for completely  healthy young men to be left so weak and  

  • hungry after basic training that their  parents have to pick them up and nurse  

  • them back to health before rejoining the army. The North Korean military also hands out brutal  

  • punishments to its soldiers. Beatings  and rape are common in their formations  

  • with fear being the primary motivating  factor getting soldiers through the day.  

  • Compare that to the professional Japanese  military that treats all its soldiers with respect  

  • and one can reasonably expect that once North  Koreans see just how better their lives might be,  

  • many would simply give up  and switch to the other side

  • All things considered, a war between North Korea  and Japan would be brutal and a close call.  

  • North Korea simply has a massive amount of people  and equipment to overcome while fighting on their  

  • home territory. The Japanese face the difficulty  of fighting a campaign away from their shores  

  • and in replacing losses of people and material  quickly as casualties mount. If Japan could  

  • conduct a swift and lightning-fast campaign  that bypasses most of the fixed North Korean  

  • positions they could win a stunning victory. But  if the Japanese lose the element of surprise the  

  • favor is pointed towards the North Koreans who  can mobilize an entire nation prepared for war.

The Korean War is still the world's  longest-running conflict. Though the  

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NORTH KOREA vs JAPAN - Who Would Win (Military / Army Comparison)

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    Summer posted on 2021/04/08
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