The Japanese movie “Taiyo wo Nusunda Otoko” (The man who stole the sun) tells a spine-chilling story about nuclear blackmail perpetrated by an ordinary citizen. The main protagonist of the film, a high school science teacher played by pop singer Kenji Sawada, steals plutonium from a nuclear power plant and builds his own atomic bomb.

The film was released in 1979 during the Cold War standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The man, who tries to blackmail the government into accepting his demands by threatening to activate the bomb, calls himself “No. 9.”

The moniker he has created for himself means he is the ninth possessor of a nuclear weapon after the existing eight nuclear powers at that time.

The man acts in a creepy way and seems to have lost his mind.

One “No. 9” has emerged to spook the real world. A U.S. newspaper recently reported on Washington’s assessment that North Korea has produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can be mounted on its intercontinental ballistic missiles.

If that is true, North Korea has gone ahead with an utterly reckless and outrageous action that turns a blatant deaf ear to harsh international criticism.

Pyongyang has also been launching an almost daily barrage of verbal threats in viciously abusive language.

In an apparent warning against U.S. military action, North Korea has said, “The mainland U.S. will be catapulted into an unimaginable sea of fire.”

It has also ominously threatened that it could create “an occasion for the Yankees to be the first to experience the might of the strategic weapons of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea).”

The secluded regime has even gone so far as to declare it is developing a plan to fire missiles near the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.

What has been equally shocking is that U.S. President Donald Trump responded to North Korea’s rhetoric with the same kind of disturbingly bellicose threats, warning that further provocative acts by Pyongyang “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Trump's apocalyptic warning may have only been an attempt to try and deter Pyongyang from committing a reckless act, but the escalating rhetoric on both sides is, if anything, likely increasing the risk of war.

In the movie, the main protagonist gets wounded and falls ill, failing to achieve his objective.

The film ends with the man walking along the street carrying an atomic bomb with a timer, surrounded by the sound of an explosion.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 11

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.