International Humanity

A Blog Started to Record my thoughts on International News events

Analyzing Japan’s Attitude towards recent North Korea Pact

Posted by alexfrancis on February 15, 2007

Source: and note: may need to register on the New York Times website to view this article

On Teusday February 13, 2007 a pact resulting of a six-nation summit meeting in Beijing was made with North Korea that will require North Korea to freeze its production of plutonium at its nuclear facility in Yongbyon and to allow international inspectors to monitor and verify its compliance. In exchange, North Korea will receive  food and fuel aid from all the other countries present at the Beijing summit, except Japan.

While, the United States, China, South Korea and Russia agreed to provide North Korea with the food and fuel aid promised in the pact, Japan did not agree to the aid package, saying that it first needs to work out the issue of North Korea’s past abductions of Japanese citizens, an event that took place in the 1970’s.

In effect, Japan has caused unrest between states as a result of its demanding that this issue of abduction, not even related to the nuclear pact, be addressed at the summit.

At an individual level of analysis, the background of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s rise to power can help to explain Japan’s current stubbornness concerning the abduction issue. Abe has won the support of the Japanese people in large part by focusing on the abduction of Japanese citizens throughout his political career. Because Abe’s popularity depends on this issue, it is not likely that Japan will be satisfied with compromise.

A brief summary of the issue is that North Korea has acknowledged kidnapping a dozen Japanese in the 70’s and returned five survivors four years ago, saying the rest had died,  but Japan says more survivors remain and that it will not normalize relations with North Korea unless the abducted Japanese were accounted for.

Japan’s unwillingness to fulfill its part in the pact with North Korea is the result of the narrow agenda in foreign policy as directed by Shinzo Abe. Japan used this international summit as an opportunity to focus on the abductions, despite their complete irrelevance to the pact at hand.

Yet, I see Japan as the one whose losing in this picture. After all, four other countries have agreed to supplying the food and fuel supplies owed to North Korea in the pact; thus Japan really has become isolated on the issue.

closing ceremonies of nuclear pact Photo by Andrew Wong: Closing Ceremonies of Korea Pact

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