Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Japan and the North Korean Nuclear Agreement: In or Out?

Posted by K.E. White on February 13, 2007

The Japanese Prime Minister seems unsure as to whether he is ‘in’ or ‘out’ of the recently concluded North Korean nuclear accord.

From Minister Shinzo Abe

‘Out’ Prime Minister Abe: “We cannot provide (energy) aid unless there’s progress over the abduction issue.”

‘In’ Prime Minister Abe: “We will cooperate in the efforts to move forward this framework aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear programme.”

Japan is one of the six parties that heralded the recently struck North Korean accord. Abe’s gymnastic exercise in diplomatic double-talk points to just how murky the North Korean nuclear issue remains.

What is this abduction issue? And why is it so important?

Breitbart offers this:

Abe took office last September, especially after winning public support for his work in trying to resolve the long-standing abduction issue.

Japan and North Korea are deadlocked in a dispute over the whereabouts of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and the two countries are divided over the number of kidnapped Japanese as well as over what happened to some of them.

On top of that, Japan last year slapped a series of economic sanctions on North Korea following Pyongyang’s ballistic missile test-launches in July and its first-ever nuclear test in October. The sanctions are still in place.

And Abe’s low popularity isn’t helping things:

Less than five months after taking office, Abe’s popularity is plummeting amid scandals and doubts over his ability to address problems including welfare costs and a rising disparity in incomes. Abe, 52, may face pressure to step down if his Liberal Democratic Party does poorly in July elections for parliament’s upper house.

A Kyodo News survey published Feb. 5 found that only 40.3 percent of Japanese approve of his performance, while 44.1 disapprove; his ratings have plummeted 25 points since he took office.

Proliferation Press has taken up the effects of Abe’s declining popularity before (with respect to America’s security strategy in the Pacific).

These two PINR reports provide an excellent overview of both Abe and the challenges now facing Japan.

One Response to “Japan and the North Korean Nuclear Agreement: In or Out?”

  1. Shingen said

    Not wanting to blow my own trumpet, but I cover the abduction issue in my blog. It is truly fascinating. I believe it was generally expected that Japan would come out against aiding North Korea without progress on the abduction issue.

    Just a few months ago, Gerald Curtis (of the University of Columbia, author of ‘The Logic of Japanese Politics’) warned that Tokyo’s hard-line on the abduction issue was damaging its role in the Six-Party Talks, and this is just an example of that. This highly emotive issue must be dealt with, but in my view now is not the best time. All six nations have to capitalise on this progress.

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