Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Japan Must Prepare for a Dialogue with North Korea
MICHISHITA Narushige / Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies

February 15, 2018
Recently, North Korea has adopted a conciliatory approach, agreeing to hold bilateral talks with South Korea and announcing its participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. North Korea is following the same old pattern. North Korea has repeatedly employed this strategy of turning to dialogue after raising tensions as a means to win concessions.

What will North Korea do now? North Korea will first demand an expansion in humanitarian aid. It is highly likely that this will be followed by proposals that incorporate obviously peaceful themes, such as promoting North-South exchange and constructing a mechanism to prevent accidental military clashes. The aim is to build the momentum for advancing the dialogue. The start of the talks could also influence international opinion towards easing the enforcement of UN sanctions against North Korea. This would be an agreeable deal for South Korea as well as China, neither of which actually wishes to take a hardline attitude towards North Korea. Anticipating such a reaction, North Korea may also be emboldened to make unacceptable demands on South Korea, feeling that they have nothing to lose even if they are rejected.

It could demand that South Korea not only postpone but put a halt to its combined military exercises with the United States. It could also seek a lifting of the so-called “May 24 Measures” imposed by South Korea in 2010, which included the suspension of North-South trade and a ban on new investments in North Korea. If this approach works, it would provide a windfall for North Korea. Conversely, any sign of hesitation on the part of South Korea would give North Korea an excuse to criticize it for ruining the dialogue. Resolving Korean issues through talks between the two Koreas without the interference of outside powers is a logic that resonates among South Koreans as well. And should the talks break down, North Korea can simply blame South Korea.

The South Korean government of President Moon Je-in is well aware of North Korea’s intentions. However, even with the knowledge that the North-South dialogue is a “poisoned steamed bun,” the success of the PyeongChang Games being its top priority, South Korea has no choice but to eat it. Their stance is to tolerate the taste, just as long as it doesn’t cause a stomach ache.

Meanwhile, Japan should come up with a plan for talks with North Korea. For example, on the issue of missile development, Japan should consider taking advantage of North Korea’s claim that it is pursuing “peaceful development of space” by proposing joint development of peaceful uses of space to bring North Korea under a monitoring framework. The same approach could be taken to promote a gradual shift in North Korea’s nuclear program from the development of nuclear weapons to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

When considering future policies on national security, we must not limit our thinking to the North Korean issue. I believe that in some ways, China is using North Korea as a “lightning rod.” While North Korea continues to bear the brunt of international criticism, China has pursued its military expansion, steadily reinforcing its bases in the South China Sea. In view of the fact that China presents a more substantial and long-term issue for our security, Japan should remain alert to this aspect when formulating its policies.

Narushige Michishita is a professor and the director of the Security and International Studies Program at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo. He is also the author of North Korea's Military-Diplomatic Campaigns, 1966-2008 (Routledge, 2009). This is a revised version of an article that first appeared in the Business Insider Japan website on January 19, 2018.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

道下徳成 / 政策研究大学院大学教授

2018年 2月 15日


米韓軍事演習の延期だけではなく、中止といった要求。韓国が2010年に科した制裁、いわゆる 「5・24措置」(南北交易の中断、北朝鮮に対する新規投資の不許可など)の解除も求めてくるであろう。うまくいったらもうけもの。韓国が逡巡(しゅんじゅん)したら、「対話をぶち壊すのか」と逆に非難する。朝鮮⺠族の問題は外部の国に干渉されずに自分たちだけで話し合おうというロジックは韓国人の心にも響きやすい。仮に決裂しても、韓国に責任転嫁すればよい。




North Korea's Military-Diplomatic Campaigns, 1966-2008 (Routledge, 2009)著者。本稿はBusiness Insider Japan 2018年1月19日号に掲載された記事を修正したものである。
一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

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