2019: The North Korean Peace Process...

Security in East Asia  -  China - USA - Japan - Korea
The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus Volume 17 | Issue 15 | Number 4 | Jul 21, 2019
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The North Korean Peace Process and the Abduction Problem:
A Japanese Role?

by Wada Haruki, translated by Gavan McCormack

A Japanese Role?
In a 3 May 2019 interview with Sankei Shimbun, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo said, “To resolve the abductions problem, nothing is more important than for Japan to adopt a positive approach. To break through the current mutual distrust between our two counties there is no other way than for me as Prime Minister to meet directly with Chairman Kim. So I am thinking to meet Chairman Kim without any preconditions for frank and open-ended talks.”

This “unconditional talks” formula attracted considerable attention from both political and media circles in Japan. On 19 May the National Association of Families of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea (Kazoku-kai) and the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Abducted by North Korea (Sukuukai) held their first joint public meeting for a long while and attracted 1,000 people. Prime Minister Abe himself participated and on this occasion too expressed his interest in unconditional talks, even though he added, cautiously, that in fact there was no prospect of such talks occurring. Still, the audience responded with enthusiasm. On the following day Yomiuri Shimbun published the results of an opinion survey that found 47 per cent in favor of dialogue with North Korea compared to 40 per cent stressing the use of pressure, and 52 per cent favoring Prime Minister Abe’s unconditional talks formula far exceeding the 33 per cent that opposed it. Prime Minister Abe’s unconditional talks formula raised high expectations for direct Japan-North Korea negotiations on the part of both the abducted families association and the general public. 

But what was the Prime Minister really thinking? What was he aiming at?

Primacy to Sanctions - The Abe Government’s Consistent Line on the Abductions Issue
In the context of the confrontation between ...

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