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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 March 7 - 13  > Abe-led Japan kept out of loop about agreement between North and South Korea
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2018 March 7 - 13 [POLITICS]

Abe-led Japan kept out of loop about agreement between North and South Korea

March 8, 2018
The Prime Minister Abe-led government has reiterated, “Japan in collaboration with the international community keeps applying the pressure on North Korea in order to force the nation to abandon its nuclear capability.” This strong-arm approach, however, is no longer an option.

North Korea in February sent high-ranking government officials and the nation’s most popular pop band as well as a delegation of athletes to the PyeongChang Olympic Games, creating a “reconciliatory mood between North and South”. The Japanese government expressed a negative reaction to this move by labelling it as “smile diplomacy”.

In reality, however, taking advantage of the international sports event, channels for dialogue between the two Koreas as well as between Pyongyang and Washington have been established through behind-the-scene negotiations, and the two Koreas agreed to hold a North-South summit meeting. Since Kim Jong-un inaugurated his administration, the North for the first time declared denuclearization to be its goal. It also made an important decision to not conduct any nuclear tests and missile launches during the dialogue period.

Japan was totally kept out of loop on this move. The North-South agreement received favorable responses from China and even from U.S. President Trump who in the past hinted at the possibility of initiating a preemptive strike on the North. Amid this positive atmosphere, only PM Abe adopted a wait-and-see stance by saying, “It is necessary to watch the situation closely.”

The Japanese government’s traditional approach to North Korea was “dialogue and pressure”. The Abe government in 2017 revised this attitude with the aim of getting in step with the U.S. Trump administration which took a tough stand against the North. The Trump administration, however, is now swinging between dialogue and pressure. Given the situation, the course of action that Japan should take is to put an end to the “pressure” stance and instead work to reinforce the positive moves being made toward increasing communications.

Past related articles:
> Abe puts chill on Seoul-Pyongyang talks [ February 14, 2018]
> Public opinion prefers ‘dialogue’ to ‘pressure’ for solving N. Korea issue [ December 5, 2017]
> Abe at UNGA denies importance of diplomatic efforts in solving N. Korea problem [September 22, 2017]
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