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

Impressions on the Trump-Kim Singapore Summit
HANABUSA Masamichi  / Former Ambassador to Italy

June 15, 2018
It was surprising that the US-North Korea summit made a quantum jump to writing a blue print for the construction of a new regime in the Korean Peninsula based on the improvement of their relations, going far beyond the beginning of the dialogue between the US and North Korea. The leadership of Presidents Ronald Trump and Moon Jae In as well as Chairman Kim Jong Un is commendable.

The writer was personally impressed by America’s paternalistic stance shown through its diplomatic exchanges with North Korea preceding the summit and President Trump’s apparent exhilaration at his press conference. It is inconceivable that North Korea, militarily dependent mainly on nuclear weapons and missiles, lagging desperately behind in economic development, could dare to renege on the agreement without gravely jeopardizing its own interests; after all the North Korean economy is as small in scale as one of the municipalities of either America or Japan.

The task to denuclearize North Korea with its considerable nuclear arsenal is far more difficult and complicated than tackling the Libyan or the Iranian case. It is unclear whether future negotiations between Trump and Kim would bring about a non-porous agreement on the CIVD of North Korea, However, it is important that this summit has disclosed that North Korea attaches the highest priority to its relations with the US. There seems to be little ground to believe that North Korea, cherishing its “juche (self-reliance)” idea, would forfeit the emerging establishment of good relations with America in favor of dubious partnerships with China, with whom the relationship has been historically delicate, or with far more opportunistic Russia.

However formidable a leader Kim Jong Un may be, it is clear that he could not stay in power forever with his awesome boldness and cruelty alone. Chairman Kim needs a genuine relationship of trust with Trump, if he is to control the domestic military establishment that is naturally very concerned about the future and to maintain accommodating relations with the US in the most critical initial period of the coming two years. In this sense, it is rational for President Trump to concede more to Chairman Kim in the initial period so that North Korea engenders trust in the US. It also is wise for Trump to expand his perspective beyond North Korea’s security to its prosperity.

In parallel with the agreement on the denuclearizing process between the US and North Korea, it is at present most important for both north and south Koreas to act with swiftness and a spirit of mutual compromise in order to make the most of the heaven-sent opportunity that has arisen from the sudden American change of heart. They had better transcend petty calculations in the spirit of determining the destiny of the Korean nation on their own accord as enunciated in the Panmunjom Declaration to overcome decades-long confrontation.

China and Russia, out of their concern over the fast-moving rapprochement between America and North Korea, could be tempted to curry favor with North Korea by loosening economic sanctions on North Korea. In order to prevent this, it is desirable to reconstruct a 6-nation framework anew, so that they share a common understanding of what is going on in the Peninsula. It is highly important that the US will control the pace of loosening sanctions. For that the US needs to maintain its control over the loosening pace within the framework of broader US-China and US-Russia relations.

Lastly, Japan must cooperate as much as it could towards the success of the denuclearization of North Korea, fully mindful of the gigantic positive impact the denuclearization would bring on Japan’s security. The room for Japan’s contribution may be small in the initial period of confidence-building. It is imperative for Japan to try to build good Japan-North Korea relations without losing the long-term perspective. With regard to the so-called“abduction issue”, at the time of former Prime Minister Koizumi’s visit to Pyongyang in September 2002, North Korea acknowledged the issue and apologized for it at the government level. Bearing this in mind, it is important for Japan to solve this issue in as quiet and moderate a fashion as possible in the direction of satisfying the expectations of the related families. The Japanese people need to restrain their emotional reactions, so that they would not end up reducing the totality of Japan-North Korea relationship to the single issue of abduction.

The writer is Emeritus Chairman of the ESUJ.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

英 正道 / 元駐伊大使

2018年 6月 15日







一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Impressions on the Trump-Kim Singapore Summit