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The Politics of North Korea in Japan. Rust M. Deming. Introduction. The normalization of relations with North Korea represents one of the two major Japanese foreign policy issues remaining from WWII. (The other is a peace treaty with Russia.)

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Introduction

  • The normalization of relations with North Korea represents one of the two major Japanese foreign policy issues remaining from WWII. (The other is a peace treaty with Russia.)

  • Today I will examine the background of this issue, the efforts made by Japan to normalize relations with the North, and current impasse over the abduction, nuclear, and missile issues.

  • I will also discuss the current strains between Washington and Tokyo over approaches to North Korea.

  • I will conclude with some thoughts about the future evolution of Japan-North Korean relations.


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The Political Setting In Japan

  • Since 1945, the Korean issue has created a deep divide in Japanese politics

    • Cold War polarization

      • The Japanese Left attracted to Kim Il Sung’s “Socialist Paradise”

        • ROK US puppet

      • Conservative establishment supported ROK

    • Korean War deepened divide

      • Left

        • ROK started war

      • GOJ

        • Still under Occupation so neutrality not an option

          • Sent Japanese minesweepers

          • Japanese firms provided logistical support

          • Korean War contributed to major economic boom


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Divided Interpretations in Japanese Politics of Japan’s Korean Legacy

  • Japanese Left regarded Japan’s 40 - year occupation of Korea as an example of Japanese imperialism and exploitation

  • Japanese Right defended colonial period as leaving a largely positive legacy of economic development and education

  • Left/Right divide on treatment of Korean residents of Japan

    • Left supported greater rights for resident Koreans


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Japan’s Korean Community Korean Legacy

  • Korean community in Japan divided on North/South lines

    • Chosen Soren

      • Supported North

        • Originally about 2/3s of 700,000 Korean community

        • Schools, well developed social networks

        • Channeled remittances to Pyongyang

        • Supported 1959-1984 repatriation to DPRK of 87,000 Koreans

          • 6000 Japanese spouses also went to North Korea

    • Mindan

      • Supported ROK

        • Originally About 1/3 of Korean Community

        • Less structured than Chosen Soren

          • Membership less political, more integrated

    • GOJ allowed Korean residents to register only as ROK citizens


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Japan’s Normalization with the ROK Korean Legacy

  • ROK-Japan relations not normalized until 1965, reflecting the complex history between Japan and Korea

    • First ROK President Syngman Rhee (1948-1960) not interested in normalizing

    • Left in Japan opposed to normalization with ROK, pushed for normalization with DPRK

  • US pushed GOJ to establish diplomatic ties with ROK


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Elements of Japan-ROK Normalization Korean Legacy

  • Treaty with apology – “deep remorse”

  • ROK government “only lawful government,” from UN resolution language

    • Reflected ROK desire to block Japan-DPRK relations

  • Claims/reparations

    • GOJ position: Japan-Korea not at war

      • But renounced all claims to property

      • $1.5 billion “aid package”

  • Fisheries agreement

  • Status of 700,000 Koreans in Japan

    • Legal residency for those in Japan in 1945 and their children


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GOJ-ROK Relations Developed Rapidly Korean Legacy

  • Trade expanded rapidly

  • Sato agreement to Korea clause at Nixon Sato summit - 1969

    • Connected to US agreement to return Okinawa to Japan

      • Seen by US as GOJ intent to allow US use of bases to defend ROK

  • Kim Dae Jung kidnapping by KCIA (1973) set back ties

  • Nakasone breakthrough - 1982

    • Visited ROK right after his assumption of office

      • Took with him $4 billion aid package

  • But still rocky periods

    • History

      • Fujio statement

      • Textbooks


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Japan-North Korea Korean Legacy

  • Normalization with North on Japan’s diplomatic agenda after 1965

    • Balance ties with ROK

    • Remove source of domestic political tension

    • Trade incentives (DPRK and ROK economies essentially equivalent in 1965)

  • But steady erosion of interest in Japan

    • ROK economy took off

    • US, ROK discouraged GOJ overtures to DPRK

    • Japan had other priorities

      • Okinawa return 1972

      • China normalization


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Japan-North Korea (2) Korean Legacy

  • North’s increasingly aberrant behavior added to problem

    • North gave sanctuary to Japan Red Army hijackers of “Yodo” airliner - 1970

    • Suspected abduction of Japanese citizens - 1979-83

    • Rangoon bombing

    • KAL bombing 1987

  • GOJ essentially left relations with DPRK to JSP

    • Part of quiet division of labor under the 1955 system

    • Private trade and fisheries agreements but no formal ties


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Japan -North Korea (3) Korean Legacy

  • Post Cold War revival of interest

    • Roh Tae Woo initiatives toward North (1988) opened door for GOJ

      • Led to NK-ROK agreements on reconciliation/denuclearization 1991

  • ROK normalization with Moscow (1990) and PRC (1992)

    • Opened door for ROK/DPRK UN membership (1991)

  • Kanemaru-JSP mission (1990)

    • Designed to set terms for negotiations on normalization

      • Kanemaru (Mr. “Abouto”) poor negotiator

        • Japanese delegation agreed to compensate DPRK not only for colonial period but for post war division - repudiated by GOJ

  • But did agree on basic issues to be negotiated

    • 1) Settlement of basic issues of past with treaty

    • 2) Economics, including “reparations”

    • 3) International issues, N-S, nukes

    • 4) Humanitarian (abductions) - Megumi Yokota

  • Eight rounds of negotiations with little results

    • Disagreement over amount/terms of compensation


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    Japan-North Korea (4) Korean Legacy

    • 1990s fluctuations

      • 1992-94 – cool; nuclear issue erupts

      • 1995-97 - Revitalized

        • Jimmy Carter visit - GOJ joins KEDO, contributes $1billion for LWR

        • GOJ provides food, humanitarian aid to North

        • Resumption of normalization negotiations, return of Japanese spouses

      • 1997-99 downturn

        • Abduction issue – families organized

        • Taepodong missile launch over Japan - key event

          • Japan developed laws to control funds to DPRK

          • GOJ unhappy with muted US response; led to satellite program

        • Spy boat intrusion

      • Fundamentally hardened Japanese attitudes toward North Korea

        • Even long-time supporters on Left backed away from DPRK

        • Support in Korean community greatly weakened

          • New generation less political

          • Increased integration of Korean community into Japanese society


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    The Koizumi Era Korean Legacy

    • Koizumi visit to Pyongyang in Sept. 2002

      • Wanted to make historic breakthrough

        • Settle one of last pending WW II issues

        • Give Japan greater diplomatic leverage, flexibility

        • Speculation that Bush’s tough approach to NK may have led Pyongyang to soften toward Japan

        • Secret negotiations kept from US

      • Visit produced mixed results

        • NK revealed 13 abductions, eight dead

        • Included one person GOJ was unaware of

        • North apologized

          • Allowed five survivors to visit Japan

          • Koizumi demanded full explanation

      • But revelations produced backlash in Japan

        • Suspicions became confirmed reality

        • Almost complete erosion of public support in Japan for North Korea


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    The Koizumi Era (2) Korean Legacy

    • Visit did produce some positive results

      • North agreed to:

        • Nuclear –would stand by agreements

        • Long-range missiles – continue moratorium on tests

        • Normalization

          • Accepted Murayama statement as basis for apology

          • Accepted ROK formula for reparations

      • Breakdown of negotiations

        • Oct. 2002

          • GOJ did not return five survivors visiting Japan

          • North accused Japan of breaking agreement


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    Koizumi Era (3) Korean Legacy

    • Second summit May 2004

      • North allowed family members to leave

      • Promised further investigations of abductions

      • But remains of Megumi Yokota did not match DNA

    • Comprehensive talks 2006

      • DPRK stiffed Japan on further investigations


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    Japan’s Response to Nuclear North Korea - Oct. 2006 Korean Legacy

    • July 4-5 2006 missile tests by DPRK led to sanctions

      • Ban on port calls by weekly ferry linking Niigata-Wonson, charter flights, remittances for groups linked to WMD

    • Oct. nuclear test -Japan’s reaction strong but measured

      • GOJ played lead role at UNSC on resolution condemning DPRK

      • Japan banned all North Korean ships from Japanese ports -impact on fund transfers - and all DPRK imports

    • Reinforced public support for missile defense

    • Net result:

      • Further hardening of Japanese public attitudes toward the North

      • Reinforced when Abe became PM in late Sept. 2006

        • Abe’s popularity largely a result of hard stance on DPRK


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    The Gap Between the US and Japan on North Korea after North’s tests

    • Tokyo and Washington had been the hardliners among the Six Parties

      • Some ambivalence in Tokyo about refusal of Bush administration to engage directly with North

      • But happy with Washington’s strong support on abduction issue

        • Bush meeting with families


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    US-Japan Gap (2) North’s tests

    • US shift on North Korea not clearly signaled to Tokyo

      • Complex policy and bureaucratic background

        • Nuclear test changed stakes for US

        • Rumsfeld, Bolton departures

          • Hardliners weakened

        • Sec. Rice, Chris Hill got President’s support for engagement

      • Hill’s Berlin meeting alarmed GOJ

        • Agreement on terms of Banco Delta Asia settlement cleared way for resumption of Six Party talks


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    Feb. 13, 2007 Beijing Six Party Denuclearization Action Plan North’s tests

    • Implementation of Sept. 2005 Six Party Agreement

    • Five parallel actions agreed on:

      • DPRK shuts down Yongbyon, invites IAEA back

      • DPRK to list all its nuclear programs, including separated Pu

      • US-DPRK normalization talks - removal of DPRK from terrorism list, etc.

      • Japan-DPRK normalization talks

        • Resolve “unfortunate past” and “outstanding issues of concern”

      • Economic, energy, and humanitarian assistance for DPRK

        • 50,000 tons of fuel oil in 60 days

  • GOJ reluctantly went along but did not join supply of oil


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    Oct. 3, 2007: “Second Phase Actions” to Implement Joint Statement

    • Spelled out details and timetable for declaration, disablement by end of 2007

    • DPRK commitment not to transfer nuclear material and technology

    • US reaffirmed its intent to remove DPRK from terrorism list, tied to declaration, disabling of reactor, reprocessing, fabrication facilities

    • Japan, DPRK to make “sincere efforts”to normalize

    • Reaffirmed aid, oil, to DPRK


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    GOJ - US Tensions Statement

    • GOJ unhappy with USG de-linkage of abduction issue from the removal of DPRK from US list of state sponsors of terrorism

      • Seen as a “betrayal” and undercutting GOJ leverage with North

    • US unhappy with GOJ’s “parochial” perspective

      • De-nuclear DPRK highest priority for US, Japan, region, world

      • Delisting one of few carrots US has to offer

        • US terrorism list relates only to recent actions

    • PM Fukuda appears to be looking for greater flexibility but has little room to maneuver

      • Separate abductions from nuclear issue

      • Tie abduction resolution to final normalization


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    Recent Developments Statement

    • US-DPRK Singapore meeting - March 2008

      • US seeking promised full declaration of all DPRK nuclear programs, including clarification of the uranium enrichment issue, that was due at end of 2007

        • Indication that earlier DPRK declaration inadequate

      • US also seeking clarification of Syrian connection

      • US also made clear that it will remove NK from US terrorism list if it produces declaration/clarifications

        • Form of clarifications unclear - Shanghai formula?

      • On-going discussions within USG and with DPRK to flesh out the deal

      • On-going USG-GOJ discussions on coordination

        • Deputy Secretary Negroponte’s May 9 visit to Tokyo

      • Continuing major source of tension in relations


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    Other Lurking US-Japan Differences on the DPRK Statement

    • Differing end-game priorities

      • For US

        • Non-proliferation is real red line

          • Syrian connection very troubling

        • Accounting and removal of plutonium essential

        • Explanation of uranium enrichment program

      • For GOJ

        • Abductions - resolution is highest political priority

        • Plutonium - insists on accounting/removal of all material

        • Missiles - continued moratorium

        • HEU - important but less central to GOJ concerns

        • Non-proliferation - important but Syrian connection less central

      • Potential for differing US and GOJ bottom lines


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    Conclusion - Whither Japan and North Korea? Statement

    • Japan-North Korean normalization essential element of long-term solution of the “Korean Issue”

      • Strategic

        • Remove a lingering source of tension in East Asia

        • Resolve one of last WW II issues

      • Economic

        • Japanese aid, investment one of the keys to NK development

      • Humanitarian

        • Family reunifications


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    Barriers to Normalization Statement

    • Abduction Issue

      • Extremely difficult to resolve

        • GOJ demand:

          • Return all living victims to Japan

          • Provide a full accounting of all victims

          • Hand over those responsible for the abductions

      • DPRK may be unable or unwilling to comply

        • Most sensitive, and embarrassing, aspects of North Korean behavior are involved

          • Tied to both Kims

        • How do you prove a negative?


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    Barriers to Normalization (2) Statement

    • Nuclear Issue

      • Represents direct threat to Japan

      • Normalization conditioned on “resolution” of nuclear issue

        • Freeze, disablement, dismantlement of Yongbyon

        • Accounting for and export of all separated plutonium

          Missile Issue

      • Taepodong poses unique threat to Japan

        • Not a threat to ROK

        • Not a credible threat to US given US nukes

      • Tied to credibility of US nuclear umbrella

      • Continued moratorium on tests essential condition of normalization


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    Barriers to Normalization (3) Statement

    • Dynamics of Japanese politics and public opinion

      • Hardened attitudes toward DPRK in LDP

        • Abe, Aso representative of uncompromising attitude

          • Appeal to right wing in LDP

          • Disinclined to follow Koizumi’s example

      • Pro-DPRK lobby has essentially dried up

        • Japan becoming more nationalist, less apologetic about the past

          • Reduced tolerance of North Korean polemics

          • “Politics of guilt” no longer works in Japan

        • Lack of informal “pipes” between Japan and North Korea

    • Economic disincentives

      • GOJ budget deficits, reduced support for ODA

      • Little interest in Japanese business community

        • DPRK represents unattractive trade and investment target


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    Barriers to Normalization (4) Statement

    • North Korean attitudes toward Japan

      • Pyongyang giving little apparent priority to ties with Tokyo after Koizumi visits

        Some Japanese believe that Pyongyang is convinced that isolating Tokyo is the best strategy

        • Belief that if US moves toward DPRK, Japan will inevitably follow


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    Requirements for a Breakthrough Statement

    • A nuclear deal of some kind

    • Continued missile test moratorium

    • Some DPRK “give” on info about abductees

    • Political will on both sides to make it happen

      • Now apparently lacking in both Tokyo and Pyongyang


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