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2010年12月 2日 (木)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 30
EDITORIAL: Korean Peninsula crisis

Addressing the nation Monday, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak denounced North Korea for responding to South Korea's offer of dialogue, collaboration and unstinting humanitarian assistance with a series of provocative acts, including nuclear development programs, the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan and the shelling of Daeyeonpyeongdo island.

Lee's ire is fully understandable.

Forty-six South Korean crew members died in the Cheonan incident, while the bombardment of the island killed four South Koreans, including two civilians, and reduced many homes to charred rubble.

The most important thing now is to avert any further incident and ease tensions. Not only the two Koreas, but also all related nations must work hard to reach these goals.

Beijing on Sunday proposed an emergency meeting of the heads of delegation to the six-party talks in early December.

The six-party talks are designed for North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States to discuss North Korea's denuclearization and normalization of its ties with the United States and Japan.

But the emergency meeting proposed by Beijing will not address the North Korean nuclear issue. The delegates will exchange views on "complex factors that have recently emerged with respect to Korean Peninsula affairs," according to Beijing.

China has been under pressure from the international community to exert its influence on North Korea. As host of the six-party talks, China probably figured that proposing an emergency meeting should be seen as evidence of how seriously it is taking its responsibility, which in turn should keep North Korea reined in.

We can well appreciate Beijing's attempt to seize any opportunity to bring the situation under control. However, we are skeptical of this hastily proposed meeting producing any tangible results.

In fact, Seoul's response to the proposal was that now is not the time to talk about six-party talks. Washington, too, asserted that North Korea must first change its attitude.

Tokyo's stance is the same--that Pyongyang must first acknowledge responsibility for its own actions, among other things.

But Pyongyang blames Seoul's provocations for the shelling of the island. And the reclusive country recently revealed its uranium enrichment facility and announced the planned construction of a light water reactor, both spelling the advancement of its nuclear development program.
In addition, there are moves that show Pyongyang could be gearing up for another nuclear test.

Given the situation, the proposed six-party meeting is unlikely to achieve anything. But doing nothing will only prolong the tense standoff. Something needs to be done eventually to get to the bottom of the North Korean nuclear problem.

Ultimately, the United States and China are the only countries that have the power to turn around the situation.  局面を転換させる大きな力を持っているのは、やはり米国と中国だ。

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday spoke on the phone with China's state councilor, Dai Bingguo, who oversees foreign policies. Dai reportedly told Clinton that China and the United States must actively play constructive roles in these crucial times.

We fully agree. We hope Washington and Beijing will work together to pave the way for dialogue among related nations.

Clinton intends to meet with her Japanese and South Korean counterparts. Beijing is expected to send a high-ranking official to Pyongyang.

The groundwork can be laid for the next six-party talks only with the United States and China taking the lead in coordinating the member nations and persuading North Korea to come to the table. Japan should follow this strategy and contribute to detente on the Korean Peninsula.


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