Japan and North Korea Need to Build New Bridges Based on Mutual Understanding
Ri Kuk-Chol and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Japan and North Korea have had a frosty relationship for far too long therefore it is hoped that officials from both nations will have laid the foundation stone for genuinely turning the corner in 2014. Of course, expectations are not too high because of countless stumbling blocks on both sides. However, if officials from Japan and North Korea can overcome genuine concerns and at least start to “walk together,” even if not in complete unison, then this will be positive.
North Korea must understand that negative relations with Japan only serve the enemies of Pyongyang. Likewise, political leaders in Japan have recently witnessed the “nationalist switch” in China and South Korea respectively that is aimed at Japan. Therefore, it is clear in Japan that the only “trusted friend” in the region is Taiwan but the economic orbit of China may alter this reality in the future.
The Russian Federation is also a central nation in the geopolitical reality of Northeast Asia and throughout other parts of Asia. After all, political elites in Moscow fully understand the geopolitical importance of Central Asia and developing strong ties with China and India respectively. At the same time the geopolitical importance of Mongolia is fully understood in the Russian Federation. Therefore, Japan should overcome its petty nationalist tendencies towards this major power and seek a solution to the disputed areas that is hindering genuine friendship between both nations. Also, Japan should not follow the G-7 agenda being imposed against the Russian Federation with regards to the crisis in Ukraine.
Turning back to events covering recent talks between Japan and North Korea then it is obvious that both nations need to “break their respective chains.” The new political leader in North Korea (in the sense that political leaders in North Korea stay in power for a long time) can show the world that he is open to sweeping geopolitical changes, alongside supporting genuine economic reforms with the help of China and the Russian Federation. Given this reality, Kim Jong-un can genuinely try to reach the masses based on the similar motives of Deng Xiaoping in China when he
Therefore, it is imperative that the abduction issue isn’t going to be manipulated despite the seriousness of this issue. In other words, political elites in Tokyo must move towards a more broad approach. Surely, other more important issues like the nuclear angle, geopolitical concerns, testing military hardware and building economic bridges must outweigh the continuing stumbling blocks based around the abduction issue. Once other developments move forward then naturally North Korea will be more forthcoming.
Japan must understand that millions of Koreans died defending Korean nationalism from Japanese imperialism and then against American aggression during the Korean War. After the brutal Korean War the United States then supported successive authoritarian governments in South Korea before the onset of democracy in this nation. It is too easy to point the finger at North Korea but the reality is that all nations have their own histories and outside forces led to a siege mentality in Pyongyang – but this siege mentality was not based on whims but on hard facts related to history (US dropped nuclear bombs on Japan and dropped Chemical Orange on Vietnam and regional nations that America wasn’t even at war with).
Japan and North Korea need to forgo the historical and political obstacles in order to radically alter the situation. In another article by Modern Tokyo Times about relations between Japan and North Korea, it was stated that: “Some analysts are indicating that North Korea is reaching out because of current tensions between Japan and other regional nations based on territorial issues. For example, negative comments are frequently made by South Korea towards Japan. However, this is too cynical because the new leader of North Korea must be judged on what happens during his leadership and clearly the old guard hold enormous power.”
Analysts in Japan and North Korea are eagerly awaiting the outcome of recent talks. Similarly, major powers throughout the region will be watching events closely. It is hoped therefore that political leaders in Japan and North Korea will move forward by showing sincerity and mutual respect.
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