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

Japan's National Interest vis-a-vis Pyongyang
HANABUSA Masamichi / Chairman, The English-Speaking Union of Japan

September 19, 2002
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi took a courageous - if somewhat reckless - step by visiting Pyongyang to jumpstart the stalled negotiations for normalizing Japan’s relations with North Korea. His visit has unwittingly brought to light the most cruel nature of the regime we must negotiate with, by revealing the tragic fate that befell most of the young Japanese men and women abducted by North Korean agents. We condemn the hateful criminal acts committed against those innocent Japanese, and demand that North Korea provide more information on how they met their deaths. The deep sorrow and smoldering anger felt by the bereaved families must be shared by all of us.

Nevertheless, I am inclined to support the Prime Minister’s decision to resume our normalization negotiations with North Korea. We do so not because we seek unprincipled rapprochement with this rogue regime, but because we seek our national interest of making East Asia a more stable and peaceful region. I must frankly add that Japan's past inability to square its score with North Korea - though it was no easy task - has not earned Japan the dignity and respect of our neighbors.

Having made a breakthrough by his surprise meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, Prime Minister Koizumi must now explain what he intends to achieve by resuming negotiations with North Korea, not only for Japan but also for the world at large.

He must make clear that normalizing relations with North Korea will not consequentially provide a life saver for this most rotten and dangerous regime. Without mentioning the long list of unscrupulous acts they have committed in the past, North Korea has been - beyond any doubt – an extremely dangerous state. There was good reason for Japan to wish to avoid having any dealings with it. However, such an attitude of aloofness is impermissible for a responsible nation. Japan should more seriously join hands with other nations to seek changes in North Korea.

In conducting normalization negotiations, Prime Minister Koizumi and the Japanese Foreign Ministry must ensure that the terms and conditions for settling pending issues will in no way help the North Korean regime maintain many of its wrongful policies- both domestic and international - it has pursued in the past. Above all, Japanese financial resources directed at North Korea, either in the form of economic cooperation to atone for Japan's historic 36-year domination of Korea, or of movement of funds from Korean banking institutions located in Japan, should not be allowed to benefit the repressive North Korean regime. We should not hesitate to require that Japanese money must only be used in a way that will directly benefit the North Korean people in improving their miserable plight. In this connection, resident Koreans and Korean-Japanese must understand this legitimate desire of the government and people of Japan, and cooperate with Japanese authorities.

To sustain diplomatic relations and normal commercial transactions, we must brace for tough dealings with the North Koreans. We should not idly trust their goodwill and expect necessary changes to occur naturally in the desirable direction in that country. Rather, we ourselves must change to face up to the ruthless realities of the world by enhancing all our relevant law-enforcement capabilities to deal with any contingencies and raise our preparedness and awareness against potential dangers we may face in the coming years.

Needless to say, in pursuing our national interest vis-a-vis North Korea we must closely collaborate with our allies and like-minded nations in the region. We must be open and forward-looking in our normalization negotiations with North Korea, but should be wary of "forgetting the heat of hot water once it has gone down the throat." It would be wise for us not to direct our anger at the horrible news of the deaths of many Japanese abductees towards the wrong target in our national penchant for finding easy scapegoats for wrongdoings. We must be united in facing up to the unpleasant realties of international life and remain vigilant.

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

英 正道 / 日本英語交流連盟会長

2002年 9月 19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) > Japan's National Interest vis-a-vis Pyongyang