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2011年12月23日 (金)

日米外相会談 「核」「拉致」進展へ協力強化を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 22, 2011)
Beef up international cooperation on nuclear, abduction issues
日米外相会談 「核」「拉致」進展へ協力強化を(12月21日付・読売社説)

We hope the change of leadership in North Korea will be a chance to resolve the long-pending issues of that country's nuclear development program and abduction of Japanese nationals.

During their meeting in Washington on Monday, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton agreed it was important to ensure that the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il did not negatively affect peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Gemba and Clinton also agreed that the two countries would cooperate and promote information-sharing with other countries concerned, including South Korea, China and Russia.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and U.S. President Barack Obama spoke on the phone Tuesday and confirmed that their two countries would work together toward stabilization of the Korean Peninsula.

The immediate common interest for not only Japan and the United States but also the other countries concerned, including China and South Korea, is ensuring that unpredictable events such as a coup d'etat or military provocation do not happen in North Korea. Close, multilayered cooperation is needed among the countries concerned.


Give up nuclear ambition

From a medium- and long-range perspective, it is essential to convey to Kim's successor Kim Jong Un and other leaders of the new North Korean regime that relinquishing its nuclear ambition is indispensable to reconstructing the battered economy. The countries concerned must lead North Korea in that direction.

The key element in this area could be cooperation with China, which exerts influence over North Korea through food and energy assistance.

Tokyo and Washington must hold consultative talks with Beijing to devise concrete strategies on how to work on Pyongyang.

Recent U.S.-North Korea talks saw a certain degree of progress on food assistance and halting uranium enrichment activities. It will be important for the countries concerned to move in step with each other toward the next round of U.S.-North Korea talks, which may be held as soon as early January, and the six-nation talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula to be held afterward.


Tripartite dialogue significant

In his meeting with Clinton, Gemba proposed creating a framework for dialogue involving Tokyo, Washington and Beijing, and Clinton concurred. China is wary of such a move, but tripartite dialogue would have great significance for peace and prosperity in Asia. Strenuous efforts are needed to achieve that goal.

For Japan, moving forward on the deadlocked abduction issue is a top priority.

There have been no negotiations on the issue since September 2008, when North Korea unilaterally broke its promise to reinvestigate the abductees' cases.

In the Washington meeting, Gemba also sought U.S. cooperation in resolving the abduction issue. His request reflected expectations among the families of abductees that Kim's death will contribute to progress toward a resolution.

If progress is made on the nuclear issue, it is also possible regarding the abductions. There used to be differences in the level of interest regarding a solution among Japan and its allies the United States and South Korea. But in recent years Washington and Seoul have consistently supported Japan's position on the matter. So the international environment is not unfavorable for Japan.

Of course, we cannot be too optimistic when it comes to North Korea. But now is the time for the government to make utmost efforts to work toward resolving the abduction issue.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun Dec. 21, 2011)
(2011年12月21日01時17分  読売新聞)


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