The US and North Korea in possible détente but the road ahead remains rocky: Japan sidelined

The US and North Korea in possible détente but the road ahead remains rocky: Japan sidelined  

Sawako Uchida and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

President Donald Trump of America was vindicated by his optimism prior to meeting the leader of North Korea. At first, Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, looked anxious and a little overawed by events but he soon responded in a positive manner. Hence, after the meeting took place between Trump and Kim, it became apparent that both sides had laid a firm foundation to start serious work.

Of course, the road ahead remains rocky because individuals in both camps may worry about trusting the opposing side. Equally, if military maneuvers by America and South Korea appear too aggressive to North Korea – or, if North Korea modernizes its military prowess by an unexpected launch, then events could quickly unravel in a negative sense. Therefore, it is essential that America and North Korea – along with South Korea and China – take steps to strengthen the foundation to a higher degree.

Also, all the above-named nations need to take into account the concerns of Japan and the Russian Federation, even if both nations are minor players in comparison to America, China, North Korea, and South Korea respectively. In other words, a comprehensive alignment is needed in the long-term between all nations that share the geopolitical space of Northeast Asia along with the power dynamics of America.

After the meeting, a statement stipulated, President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

The guiding hand of China in protecting North Korea was visible. Hence, Wang Yi, a top diplomat representing China, made it known that America must consider the real concerns of North Korea. Wang Yi, uttered earnestly, “At the same time, there needs to be a peace mechanism for the peninsula to resolve North Korea’s reasonable security concerns.”

Japan is sidelined

Japan, for its part, remains sidelined by history and because of the dominating role of America in the geopolitical dynamics of Japan. This equally applies to America having military bases in various parts of the country. Therefore, the nations of China, North Korea, and the Russian Federation respectively all distrust Japan to certain degrees and don’t view this nation to be fully independent. While this is a side issue for events that took place between America and North Korea – it is an issue that Japan must address if this nation wants to be taken seriously in Northeast Asia and further afield.

In a past article by Modern Tokyo Times, it was stated, Indeed, recently signed statements in adherence to G-7 nations by Japan – aimed at the Russian Federation – show that this nation is sacrificing its own foreign policy objectives based on appeasing America and other G-7 nations, notably the United Kingdom. Hence, despite Japan being a major economic powerhouse it remains to be viewed negatively in China and the Russian Federation. At the same time, Japan isn’t being taken seriously internationally because of the perceived weakness of this nation in abiding by America on many important international issues.”

The article further stressed, “Of course, Japan formulates many potent economic initiatives internationally outside of the remit of America. Similarly, on certain issues, Japan does adopt different foreign policy objectives. For example, America can’t rely on Japan to rubber-stamp its pro-Israel stance and the same applies to Japan favoring positive relations with Myanmar. Despite this, when it comes to important regional events like the Korean Peninsula or not succumbing to G-7 pressure against the Russian Federation, then either irrelevance (Korean Peninsula) or succumbing to pressure (agreeing to statements against the Russian Federation) is a sad reality. This is based on appearing to be too compliant towards America when the chips are down.”

Trump and Kim meeting

Turning back to the meeting between America and North Korea then obviously the stage is being set for greater interaction between both nations. Of course, many obstacles remain but Trump was extremely upbeat.

Trump said, “People are going to be very impressed and people are going to be very happy and we are going to take care of a very dangerous problem for the world.”

The leader of America also confirmed that he would invite the leader of North Korea to the White House. Trump also said that Kim is “very smart…very worthy, very hard negotiator.”

Kim, in a more pragmatic tone, stated, the talks were a good prelude to peace.”

Overall, sanctions will remain on North Korea but the meeting between Trump and Kim promises to create a new positive nuance on the Korean Peninsula. If so, this will have reverberations throughout Northeast Asia. Hence, Japan must acknowledge the changing dynamics and think long and hard about why this nation is being sidelined.

It is hoped that China and South Korea will guide events between America and North Korea when stumbling blocks emerge. Therefore, while opportunities abound for all sides, it is still clear that the path ahead remains rocky. In saying this, at least the first major stones have been overcome and this says much for the leaders of America and North Korea when it comes to this extremely serious issue.

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

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