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

Ensuring North Korean Security
KURIYAMA Takakazu / Japan's former Ambassador to the United States

December 2, 2003
U.S. President George Bush, upon visiting Bangkok recently to attend a summit meeting of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), reportedly said he would discuss the issue of providing a written assurance on North Korean security with the countries involved, though he ruled out signing a non-aggression treaty as demanded by North Korea. Such comments are a welcome sign that Washington has begun to take a more realistic approach towards a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue.

Policies thought to be logical or moral do not necessarily yield desired results in the world of diplomacy. And the North Korean nuclear issue is a typical case. In the international isolation brought about by the end of the Cold War, the government of Kim Jong-il believes nuclear armament to be the only means by which to ensure North Korea's survival. To convince this government into giving up its nuclear development program, it is necessary to indicate that a path to security assurance that does not require possession of nuclear weapons does exist. However, we – Japan, the United States and South Korea – will need to exercise caution when considering the specific contents of such an assurance.

We must first recognize that the abandonment of its nuclear development program, though a necessary condition, is by no means a sufficient condition for North Korea's security assurance. For its neighbors – U.S. allies, South Korea and Japan, in particular – the military threat posed by North Korea is not limited to nuclear weapons but also include the Nodong and Taepodong medium-range missiles, and above all its extensive deployment of conventional forces near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). If the United States were to provide a one-sided guarantee – in other words, promise not to use military force against North Korea – without addressing these other threats, it would serve no purpose in establishing peace and stability in East Asia including the Korean Peninsula.

Recently, North Korea has reportedly shown some positive reaction to comments made by President Bush. However, there is no room for optimism in negotiations with North Korea over its "security assurance." In return for abandoning its nuclear card, North Korea is apparently aiming to obtain from the U.S. a legally binding promise of non-use of force, and further seek the withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Korea as proof of its commitment. Could the United States, and its allies South Korea and Japan, provide such guarantees to North Korea? The answer is a definitive "No." Unless military threat from North Korea including its conventional forces is removed, no restrictions should be placed on U.S. deterrence stipulated in the U.S.-South Korea Mutual Defense Treaty and the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty.

The analysis presented above leads us to the following conclusion: North Korea must not only demonstrate its clear commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but sign a peace treaty with South Korea and abandon its policy of unifying the Korean Peninsula by force. Only when these conditions are met will it become possible for the United States and other countries involved to guarantee North Korea's security. Whether Kim Jong-il is prepared to accept this reality remains to be seen.

The writer is Japan's former Ambassador to the United States.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

栗山 尚一 / 元駐米大使

2003年 12月 2日





一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟