The recent purge of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s once-powerful uncle could herald a period of radical upheaval comparable to China’s Cultural Revolution, Japanese defense minister Itsunori Onodera said on Thursday.
Pyongyang confirmed on Monday that Mr Jang Song Thaek, once seen as the power behind the throne, had dramatically fallen from grace, with state TV airing humiliating images of him being dragged away by uniformed officers.
“After seeing the footage of Mr Jang Song Thaek being arrested, it reminded me of scenes one might have seen during the era of China’s Cultural Revolution,” Mr Onodera said in a speech given at a private think tank in Tokyo.
“North Korea might become a more radical place in the future… that is my concern,” he said.
Like many countries, Japan has an awkward relationship with North Korea, which is complicated by Pyongyang’s perceived unwillingness to come clean about the extent to which Japanese nationals were kidnapped in the 1970s and 1980s.