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2012年9月18日 (火)

日朝宣言10年 原点に返って交渉を立て直せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 18, 2012)
Revive talks with North Korea based on 2002 joint declaration
日朝宣言10年 原点に返って交渉を立て直せ(9月17日付・読売社説)

Monday marks 10 years since Junichiro Koizumi became the first Japanese prime minister to visit North Korea, where he signed the Japan-North Korea Pyongyang Joint Declaration with then North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

In the decade since then, however, the problem of Japanese abducted by North Korean agents has not been resolved, and North Korea's missile and nuclear threats to Japan have increased.

Tokyo must confirm the validity of the Pyongyang Declaration--the starting point for resolving bilateral issues--with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, the first secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, to put intergovernmental negotiations on pending issues on track.

During the 2002 summit talks, Kim Jong Il admitted for the first time that his government had been involved in abducting Japanese, and apologized.

The Pyongyang Declaration stipulated, "North Korea will take appropriate actions to prevent a recurrence of incidents that threaten the lives and safety of Japanese nationals."


Abduction issue far from over

About one month later, five abductees, including Hitomi Soga and Kaoru Hasuike, returned to Japan. Koizumi visited North Korea again in May 2004, a trip that resulted in the abductees' families being allowed to come to Japan--more progress in the right direction.

However, the whole truth of this matter is still nowhere near being revealed. Pyongyang said during its 2008 talks with Tokyo that it would reinvestigate the abduction issue, but it has unilaterally broken this promise and has not lifted a finger on this issue to this day.

We think it is extremely regrettable that North Korea has not sincerely tried to live up to its end of the bargain.

At the end of August, officials from Japan and North Korea, which is under the new regime of Kim Jong Un, held governmental talks for the first time in four years. Both delegations agreed to discuss a "broad range of issues of interest to both sides," with the abduction issue apparently in mind. This agreement seems to indicate a sign of change in North Korea.

North Korea claims other Japanese abduction victims, including Megumi Yokota, have already died. However, Jin Matsubara, state minister in charge of the abduction issue, said it is a fact that he has received a lot of information from various contacts that suggest the abductees are still alive.

We hope the government will engage in talks with the North Korean government after reassembling its strategy to ensure the repatriation of all the abductees to Japan as soon as possible.


Spell out path to normalized ties

As steps toward the normalization of Japan-North Korea diplomatic relations, the Pyongyang Declaration also confirmed international agreements would be observed to solve North Korea's nuclear issue and dialogue promoted among countries concerned over the nuclear, missile and other security issues. Following the declaration, six-party talks among Japan, North Korea, the United States, China, South Korea and Russia were launched.

After the start of these talks that aimed to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, however, North Korea ignored repeated warnings by the international community and charged ahead with ballistic missile and nuclear weapon tests. North Korea now proclaims to be a "nuclear power." The six-party talks also have ground to a halt.

North Korea has quite rightly been placed under U.N. economic sanctions, and it also has been slapped with additional sanctions by Japan.

If Pyongyang wants to revive its economy in the future, it will need to depend not just on China's assistance but also to improve its relationship with the international community.

North Korea will be able to normalize diplomatic ties with Japan only after the abduction, nuclear and missile issues are comprehensively resolved. Japan must make Kim Jong Un fully aware of that.

To achieve this goal, domestic political stability in Japan is essential.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 17, 2012)
(2012年9月17日01時20分  読売新聞)


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