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Academic year: 2023



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Japan's relationship with North Korea will most likely continue in a state of estrangement well into the foreseeable future, barring the sudden disappearance of the incumbent regime under Kim Jong Il. The two Koreas announced their joint South-North declaration on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in December 1991. 5 For discussions of the changing relations between the two Koreas and the superpowers between 1990 and 1994, see: Doug Joong Kim, editor, Foreign Relations of North Korea (Seoul: The Sejong Institute, 1995), and Bae Ho Hahn and Chae-jin Lee, editors, The Korean Peninsula and the Major Powers (Seoul: The Sejong Institute, 1998).

6 Kenneth Pyle, “North Korea in US-Japan Relations,” Woodrow Wilson Center Asia Program Occasional Paper (Washington, DC, January 1999). Japan tried to change its negative image on the Korean Peninsula in the second half of the twentieth century, with mixed results. On the other hand, the DPRK's continued intense hostility towards Japan instills widespread public fear and insecurity among Japanese citizens and strengthens their commitment to their government to maintain the US-Japan alliance.

The legacy of the past, in this case the Cold War, is once again haunting the efforts of Japan and the DPRK to improve their relations. LDP delegation leader Kanemaru Shin, also a member of the House of Representatives, expressed the same apology for Japan's past colonial rule over Koreans. Bureau of the Census, Center for International Programs, “Financial Transfers from Japan to the DPRK: Estimating Unreported Flows,” unpublished memorandum on the North Korean Trade Project (July 1995), Table 1.

Japan's frustrating effort at unilateral diplomacy with the DPRK ended when a North Korean delegation walked out of a round of talks in November 1992 after flatly refusing to discuss the plight of abducted Japanese citizens.19.

Trilateral Diplomacy: Phase One

Then Seoul and Washington also pressed Tokyo to join their growing multilateral campaign to get North Korea to make its nuclear program more transparent by cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) inspection program. After the US-DPRK Agreed Framework was signed in October 1994, Japan became a keen supporter of the Korea Peninsula Energy Development Program (KEDO), which was created to finance the construction of two light-water nuclear reactors in North Korea as promised in US-DPRK nuclear deal. 20 Lee Eu-gene, "North Korea-Japan Rapprochement and Inter-Korea Relations," in Korea Focus (May-June 1995) Vol.

The Clinton administration belatedly realized that the long-term safe storage of North Korean spent nuclear fuel and the delivery of 500,000 metric tons of heavy fuel annually to the DPRK would be much more expensive than expected. Murayama's policy towards North Korea adhered to the principles announced before the start of the first round of normalization talks between Japan and the DPRK in January 1991. The basic thrust of the Agreed Framework was the normalization of relations between North Korea and other countries.

Pyongyang sent its trade minister Li Song Rok to Tokyo in late May to encourage investment by Japanese Korean residents in North Korea's Najin-Sonbong Free Trade Zone. Nevertheless, diplomatic contacts at a working level followed, but progress was immediately blocked by North Korea's refusal to respond to Japanese inquiries about Japanese nationals allegedly abducted by North Korea between 1977 and 1987.25. He did this despite Tokyo's close coordination with Seoul on its overtures to Pyongyang, willingness to facilitate non-proliferation on the Korean Peninsula, support for KEDO, and close coordination with Seoul on all matters involving North Korea.

Until then, however, Tokyo had promised Pyongyang 300,000 metric tons of rice as a humanitarian goodwill gesture in return for aid North Korea had sent to victims of the January 1995 earthquake that devastated the Kobe area west of Osaka. Washington pushed Tokyo to supply more food aid to North Korea, while Seoul argued against any more food aid. When they held the second vice-ministerial meeting on Cheju Island on May 14, Seoul again pressed Tokyo not to send additional rice aid to North Korea.

On the other hand, the effort undermined trilateral cooperation and reduced diplomatic pressure on North Korea to be more forthcoming with Washington, Seoul and Tokyo.27. Hong Nack Kim, "Japan's Policy Towards the Two Koreas in the Post-Cold War Era," op. President Kim responded to public pressure by shifting the goal of his North Korean policy from coexistence to isolation of the regime.

A Return to Tradition

Nakayama held four hours of "sincere and friendly" talks with Kim Yong Sun, chairman of North Korea's Asia-Pacific Peace Committee and a ranking member of the Korea Workers (Communist Party). Japan announced on 11 October 1997 that it was ending the fifteen-month embargo on government food aid to the DPRK, initiated at Seoul's instigation, and pledged $27 million in food aid to the World Food Program for distribution to the DPRK.31 North Korea responded with private talks in Beijing to work out the details of the first visit to Japan from North Korea by Japanese spouses of former Korean residents in Japan. North Korea's Red Cross informed its Japanese counterpart that its investigation into allegations of missing Japanese citizens in the DPRK turned up nothing.

North Korea's leading official newspaper, the Nodong Shinmun, insisted almost daily from the fall of 1997 that Japan. Japan reacted with uncharacteristically fierce outrage to North Korea's launch of a missile through its airspace. The Japan Defense Agency (JDA) became increasingly vocal in its concerns about North Korea's missile threat to Japan and the need to align with the United States.

Japan's economic sanctions against North Korea were more symbolic than substantive, but they nevertheless underscored and gave concreteness to the Japanese people's anger toward Pyongyang. The timing of North Korea's launch could not have been better to promote defense cooperation between Japan and South Korea. For months, JDA officials reiterated Japan's "constitutional" and "sovereign" right to unilaterally strike North Korea's missile facilities.

As President Kim Dae Jung began a four-day visit to Japan on October 7, North Korea's missile launch a month earlier allowed for a swift repair of the damage his predecessor had inflicted on Japan-Korea relations. Informal contacts between Japan and North Korea should be in all possible places and at all possible times.” A day before Nunaka's remarks, on March 11, Japanese House of Commons member Akiko Domoto revealed plans for a six-day visit to the DPRK at the invitation of the Korean Asia-Pacific Peace of the committee. The memorandum concluded on a menacing note, “it is the nature of the Koreans to answer a sword with a sword and a rice cake with a rice cake.

In an unprecedented move, Japan's Navy Self-Defense Forces fired on the two ships as they fled toward North Korea. The statement concluded that Japan's “aggressive anti-DPRK legislation” justified North Korea's efforts to “increase its national defense capabilities.”50. Prior to Japan's adoption of the revised US-Japan Defense Guidelines, North Korea apparently believed that Japan would limit its role to "passive logistical support" from any US.

Instead, the two KWP officials spoke at length about North Korea's lack of confidence in the Clinton administration. The DPRK side, considering the proposal made by its Japanese counterpart, decided to request a relevant body (eg the DPRK government) to conduct a thorough investigation of the missing Japanese persons on the list submitted by the Japanese side.

Future Prospects

Japan wants North Korea to cooperate fully in an investigation into what happened to several Japanese nationals kidnapped twenty years ago and believed to have been sent to North Korea. Until December 1999, North Korea steadfastly and repeatedly refused to discuss these abductions with Japanese authorities, causing great resentment among Japanese politicians and the general public.53. The health and well-being of the approximately 6,637 Japanese women married to Korean men residing in North Korea remains a divisive issue.

Many of these women have long sought apologies and compensation from the Japanese government. The Japanese government has refused to apply the sentence to all the former comfort women. The North Korean government is adamant that the Japanese government must compensate for the comfort of women living in North Korea before bilateral relations can improve.

Since 1992, the Japanese government has taken several important steps to defuse many of the core concerns of the Korean community in Japan. The Japanese government will most likely try to limit the amount of compensation that the DPRK can be expected to demand. Japan and the Japanese business community in general to pressure the Japanese government to be generous in its economic dealings with the DPRK.

The usually large flow of money from this community to North Korea was used for the reconstruction of the Korean-Japanese community. Subsequently, the deterioration of relations between Japan and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the aging of the Korean-Japanese population in Japan have reduced the flow of money to North Korea. China remains North Korea's most important trading partner ($656.3 million in 1997), accounting for 30 percent of North Korea's entire trade.

He will point to revised US-Japan defense guidelines and increasing defense cooperation between Japan and Korea as evidence of Japan's alleged re-militarization and preparations for a "re-invasion" of the DPRK. To counter North Korea's ballistic missile program, Japan has publicly pledged financial and technical support to the United States. North Korea will argue that its missile development is a "sovereign" right that is central to its defense needs in light of Japan's alleged "remilitarization."



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