South Korea open to lifting sanctions on North Korea: US and peripheral Japan

South Korea open to lifting sanctions on North Korea: US and peripheral Japan

Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Korean Peninsula is currently witnessing new launches of tested ballistic missiles by North Korea and South Korea. This especially applies to North Korea. However, overtures are being made towards South Korea by the ruling elites in North Korea. Therefore, differences are emerging between America and South Korea concerning sanctions and the best way to deal with North Korea reducing its military ambitions.

Japan is on the periphery when it comes to the Korean Peninsula outside of being a military launching pad for America in the worst-case scenario. Indeed, despite Japan involving itself in tensions between China and Taiwan, the truth is that Japan relies heavily on America. Thereby, political elites in Japan often hide behind the military umbrella of America when condemning China and North Korea. Henceforth, while political elites in North Korea would welcome positive overtures from Japan – notably in the economic realm – the ruling elites in Pyongyang know that dealings are often rubber-stamped by America.

In a recent article by Modern Tokyo Times, it was stated, “Irrespective of people being anti-North Korea, it is illogical to ignore the modernization of the armed forces of South Korea and the military power of the United States with its armed forces stationed in Japan, South Korea, and other parts of Asia.”

Kim Yo Jong, the outspoken sister of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said, it is an “illogical attitude that describes their similar behavior as a legitimate action to support peace, and ours as a threat to peace.”

Voice of America reports about possible differences emerging between America and South Korea. This agency says, “Analysts say that as North Korea advances its weapons systems while it rejects the Biden administration’s offer for talks, there are growing signs of a potentially destabilizing rift between Washington and Seoul on whether to ease sanctions on Pyongyang.”

Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong of South Korea hinted strongly that the lifting of sanctions should be in the offing to reduce tensions and to build trust with North Korea. The Foreign Minister uttered, “… time is ripe for the consideration of sanctions relief.”

Chung did praise the administration of President Joe Biden. Thus, he said that both nations are in constant touch with each other concerning North Korea. However, Biden doesn’t currently support the lifting of sanctions until something concrete is implemented by North Korea.

The government of South Korea under President Moon Jae-in believes that the status quo will only lead to more militarization of the Korean Peninsula. Hence, the increasing development of North Korea’s ballistic missile and hypersonic programs – and nuclear – will lead to more advanced military developments that are not in the interest of South Korea.

South Korea, unlike Japan and its endless rhetoric against China, isn’t party to being a geopolitical puppet of America. Yes, South Korea works extremely close with America concerning the Korean Peninsula. However, South Korea doesn’t seek to join the anti-China containment alliance of America, Australia, India, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Therefore, unlike Japan, the political elites in South Korea might break the impasse if no overtures of substance come forward from America towards North Korea.

With the clock ticking on the administration of President Moon Jae-in, then will he gamble more independently if America doesn’t bend to certain ideas in South Korea?

Voice of America reports, “While opposing diplomatic engagement with the U.S., Kim offered to restore severed inter-Korean communication lines starting in October. Many experts see this proposition as a way to encourage South Korea to push for sanctions relief while driving the wedge between Seoul and Washington.”

Japan is watching events carefully on the Korean Peninsula despite being on the periphery. Similarly, China knows that South Korea is more independent-minded under the current president of this country.

Yet, it remains to be seen if either North Korea and South Korea can collectively end the negative status quo between them without America putting a spanner in the works.


Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

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