JIN-471 -- North Korea: abductions and the nuclear threat

J@pan Inc Newsletter
The 'JIN' J@pan Inc Newsletter
A weekly opinion piece on social, economic and political trends
in Japan.
Issue No. 471 Wednesday June 25, 2008, Tokyo

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North Korea: abductions and the nuclear threat

There are good grounds for saying that something of a shift is
taking place in Japan’s approach to North Korea. As the US
considers removing the North Korean state from its terrorism
black list, many media reports suggest that the Japanese
government is likely to show an increased flexibility in its
dealings with Pyongyang. For example, according to an AFP
article a few days ago, reporting on the nuclear issue, Foreign
Minister Masahiko Komura has hinted that Japan may not be ‘as
thorough as previously hoped’ in terms of the declaration in
requires from the North on the abandonment of its nuclear
weapons program.

On top of this, Japan has also eased some of its economic
sanctions on the North, seemingly as a response to Kim Jong-Il’s
agreement to re-open investigations into the abduction of
Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s – an issue that is
constantly in the press and on TV and a focus for anti-North
Korean sentiment. Mr Fukuda commented earlier this month that,
‘Our hope is to have a normal relationship with the DPRK,’ a
further sign that there is something of a thaw in bilateral

A closer look at the realities of the situation reveals that any
softening of stance on the Japanese side is most likely a result
of the geopolitical environment that, since the end of the war,
has dictated that Japanese foreign policy generally echoes that
of the US. In Japan, popular opinion and a large contingent of
the political establishment remain committed to a tough line on
Pyongyang. Fukuda will need to tread carefully.

In relation to US policy, the recent actions, perceived as
showing a softer approach, can only be understood in the context
of the US’ drive to reach a settlement. Condoleeza Rice will be
in Japan from tomorrow for the G8 summit and Japan’s political
leaders realize that when it comes to North Korean policy they
must either follow the US lead or risk isolation from the
negotiating process altogether.

Already, there have been some notable voices of concern, from
noisy nationalists on the street to the deputy political editor
of the Yomiuri Shimbun. In an opinion piece published last week
the latter warned: ‘While it is crucial to join forces with the
United States, China, South Korea and Russia to resolve the
North Korean nuclear issue, the government should not allow
Pyongyang to take what it wants and run without reciprocation.’
Additionally, websites such as ‘Pride of Japan,’ a right wing
blog (www.prideofjapan.jp/), have already started to attack
Prime Minister Fukuda for his “betrayal of the people.”

Further evidence of the deep-seated feeling against the North
can be seen in the recent decision to allow Koji Kawae, a former
banker who attempted to swindle the Chongryon (association of
Korean residents in Japan) out of its Tokyo property, to get off
with a suspended sentence. This scandal involved some very high
level members of the establishment including Shigetake Ogata,
former head of the Public Security Intelligence Agency.

The US is aware of this feeling and Condoleeza Rice is careful
to show it making broad statements on the abduction issue as,
‘it’s not going away for Japan; it's not going away for the
United States and we're going to continue to press North Korea
to make certain that this issue is dealt with.’ Such statements
may go some way in appeasing the public but many will be ready
to protest loudly if they don’t see action to back these
remarks. Contrarily, a realist might argue that resolving the
abduction issue and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula
removes the rationale for an expanded military role for Japan’s
Self-Defense Forces. Indeed, there may well be those on the far
right of the Japanese establishment who in their zeal to push
forward constitutional reform, see the North Korean threat as
necessary in justifying their position. However, surely the
prospect of a non-nuclear North is also greatly in the interests
of national security and thus a settlement on the nuclear issue
would be a relief to most. But is this something Japan is
willing to trade for dropping the abduction issue?

Ultimately, Japanese foreign policy is still very much wed to
decisions made in Washington and therefore it will be
interesting to see what kind of pressure this new US attitude
will put on the US-Japan alliance. Crucially, this pressure may
finally test the ability of the abduction issue to influence
Japan’s international relations. This was anticipated in a US
Congressional Research Service report earlier in the year that
forecasted, ‘If the Japanese public views Washington as
abandoning the abductees, Japanese leaders may have difficulty
convincing their public to continue to support the United States
on a range of strategic interests, including the hosting and
realignment of US military bases in Japan.’ Even though most
political leaders and Japanese citizens would most likely be
very happy to see the end of a nuclear North Korea (except
perhaps the ultra-militant minority) old sentiments, stirred up
by media that trades on criticizing the government, mean that
this domestic issue must be factored into policy. Hopefully,
when it comes down to it, denuclearization will be made the top

Peter Harris


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To the Editor:

Your tiresome parroting of the Japanese line on North Korean abduction is unbecoming a magazine promoting foreign-capital business in Japan and whose readership comprises entrepreneurs with Japanese spouses.

The Japanese government abets the abduction of foreign children, particularly US children, as amply documented by the web site of foreign parents who have had their children disappear into Japan forever as a result of marital disputes:


Japan has repeatedly refused to ratify international conventions to stop abduction of children into Japan.

North Korea is a thuggish country, but Japan could bring it to its knees if Japan were to throttle the Korean pachinko parlor owners who supply both North Korea and the LDP with funds, and twist the arms of some Chinese who allow resupply of North Korea via its Chinese border.

Why should the USA help Japan on the abduction issue, when Japan itself has unclean hands?

If we wanted to bathe in right-wing Japanese propaganda, we would be reading a Japanese-language newspaper.

Let's stick to Japan business news as reported from a non-Japanese viewpoint.


Are you implying that as "Japan" abducts children, the Japanese people cannot complain when their children get abducted?! Are you seriously thinking that the qualms you have with the Japanese government mean that Japanese citizens must pay for what you believe they are responsible for?

International marriages and divorces are still not exactly the norm in Japan, and I doubt that many people know about the issues you are talking about. And if they did know, I doubt they would encourage it. But you yourself sound as if you are encouraging Japanese kids to be abducted. Or at the very least, thinks it serves "Japan" right.

How very D.Gusting indeed.

With these kind of bigoted, narrow minded thoughts, no wonder corrupt governments continue to exist.

May I suggest you move to N.Korea - you may find it more pleasant for you there.

Oh and one last thing - clearly you didn't understand the above article. Perhaps you should keep to reading "Japanese propaganda."

D.Gusted - you obviously didn't want to "bathe in right-wing propaganda" and didn't read the article. Shame, as if you did you might not be so ignorant.

The growing number of international marriage will lead to a certain change of family related-laws. But, it's only the word "abduction" that connects two totally different matters. Did Japanese spies abduct innocent children in USA to use them as language teachers or spies against USA? I know well this is debitists' laughable propaganda.

The Japanese government strongly advocates pressure against North Korea regarding the abduction issue. D.Gusted is correct. The Japanese Government are hypocrits. Conversely, that makes the Japanese people hypocrits since they are responsible for their own government.

And it is "D.Gusting" to claim bigotry when anyone brings this issue up. I Think it is "D.Gusting" to use the bogotry attack.

It is the same thing in the US when people rightly speak out against ILLEGAL immigration and then those people are branded bigots or racists.

My, my it is amazing the variety of mold that grows in the rainy season in Japan.

Look at the colorful posters:

1. Mr./Ms. "Racism": What races are we talking about here, anyway? The Japanese aren't a race: genetic evidence indicates that the Japanese population is a mixture of 3-4 races, such as Asiatic, Pacific Islander and Ural European. The supposed white United States? More than half the US population indicated, in the most recent census, that they considered themselves to be derived from 2 or more races. The top black race-baiter in the US (Al Sharpton) is reportedly genetically related to a former white supremacist (Strom Thurmond). The top foreign-policy official tasked with the North Korean question in the US is a black woman (Condolezza Rice). If by "racism," you mean discrimination against people based on their perceived race, the discriminatory signs that used to appear in the American South or South Africa now appear only in Japan: here are a whole bunch of "Japanese only" signs for you to study-

  • http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html
  • You need to go back to Ministry of Foreign Affairs Propaganda School: the "racism" attack is no longer relevant.

    2. Mr./Ms. "Japanese Abduction is Different": True, the Japanese government does not send out agents to kidnap children in failed bi-national marriages. However, once the child is abducted back to Japan, the Japanese government blocks visas, refuses to issue documents that they are required by law to issue once the fee is paid, refuses entry and generally makes life difficult for the non-Japanese side. And the government (not the Japanese spouse) has refused to sign the UN Convention outlawing such practices.

    3. Mr./Ms. "You Didn't Read The Article": Actually, if I had not read the article, I would not have posted a comment on the article. What you are saying is that you approved of an article in a magazine for foreign investors in Japan, supporting the foreign policy of a country that has not only ranked at the bottom of OECD foreign investment results for the past 30 years, but that also blocks the personal lives of foreign persons related to Japan. You are saying that you are supporting the attempts of the Japanese power structure to revive an issue that it was happy to forget for over 25 years, in order to divert the attention of the Japanese public and the United States from issues that should matter to the J@pan Inc readership: confiscatory Japanese taxes, vague guidelines for negating treaty obligations regarding reciprocal investment, inefficent civil servants, failing educational system, out-of-control discrimanatory police, feeble justice system, etc. I think that North Korean having atomic weapons is scary, and North Korea selling the technology to rabid regimes like Iran and Syria is terrifying, but this is not what I want to read about when read J@pan Inc.

    4. Mr./Ms. "What Don't You Move To North Korea, You #%%*& !": So I should be denied my human rights because I disagree with you? Sounds like North Korea to me! No thanks, I can sit here and read the rants of little Dear Leaders like yourself, and not have to eat grass 3 times a day.

  • Some of you really need to read between the lines . Surely the US needs to patch things up in NK so it can rest easy and reallocate troops for when it goes on its next oil raid - Iran?

    Can't see how this article follows the Japanese government's line, seems pretty balanced, but on the oil angle, Japan stands to beenfit from what the US does.