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2014年7月 5日 (土)

対「北」制裁緩和 「行動対行動」の原則を貫け

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Adhere firmly to ‘action for action’ principle over N. Korea sanctions
対「北」制裁緩和 「行動対行動」の原則を貫け

The more North Korea acts positively to resolve the issue of abductions of Japanese citizens, the more Japan should offer encouragement suited to that end. This country should adhere strictly and consistently to the principle of “action for action.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed Japan’s intention to lift some of the country’s unilateral sanctions against North Korea. This is because the Japanese government has put a high value on the framework of the “Special Investigation Committee” Pyongyang has committed to setting up on Friday for the reinvestigation of the Japanese abductees and related issues.

The National Defense Commission, headed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, concurrently the first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, has given the investigative body the mandate to conduct probes into any of North Korea’s government organizations. The body will reportedly be headed by So Tae Ha, vice minister of the State Security Ministry, who doubles as a counselor in charge of security at the National Defense Commission.

Abe said at a press conference on Thursday that an “unprecedented framework capable of making decisions at the state level will come to the fore” in Pyongyang. If this framework actually works, it will likely be possible to attain the goal of completing the investigations “within a period of one year” as pledged by North Korea.

In response to Pyongyang’s commitments, Japan will lift restrictions on travel between the two countries and ease restrictions on cash taken from Japan into North Korea as well as remittances to the country. While allowing the entry of North Korean-registered vessels into Japanese ports only for humanitarian purposes, the Japanese government will keep in place the ban on the entry of the Mangyongbong-92 cargo-passenger ship.

This step is expected to be effective in prompting North Korea to take further constructive measures to handle the pending issues.

In addition to known abduction victims and missing Japanese suspected of being abducted by North Korean agents, the investigations will cover Japanese women who remained in the country as wives of North Korean men after going there as part of the North’s movement to repatriate its citizens living in Japan from the 1950s to the 1980s. It has been reported the investigation committee will comprise four subpanels in accordance with the categories of the probe’s multiple objectives.

Following through on deal

As Abe has said this is “only the start” on a road to a comprehensive resolution of the issues, it is indispensable for the government to scrutinize progress as needed to ascertain whether North Korea is sincere in its efforts to undertake the investigations.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced the prospect Thursday that Japan will receive the first report on the probes from North Korea sometime from the end of summer to the beginning of autumn this year. It will be necessary for Japan to examine the contents of the report, while taking when necessary such measures as sending an investigation team from Tokyo to Pyongyang and asking North Korea to conduct additional investigations.

Further easing of Japan’s sanctions must of course be contingent on whether North Korea’s investigation activities are deemed successful in producing tangible results. In the event that North Korea fails to act sincerely, the option of Japan rescinding the easing of the sanctions should not be ruled out.

What cannot be overlooked in connection with this is North Korea’s launching of ballistic missiles on June 29 into the Sea of Japan just ahead of the latest Tokyo-Pyongyang consultations. The missile firing is in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions over the matter, and it is only natural that the Japanese government lodged a protest with North Korea over the test launches.

While some analysts have argued that the missile launch may have been primarily aimed at discouraging closer ties between China and South Korea, the military provocation by the North will only serve to further deepen the international isolation of Pyongyang.

The abduction problem is undoubtedly a problem that must fundamentally be resolved through Japan’s own efforts to negotiate with North Korea. The Japanese government, however, should inform adequately both the United States and South Korea of the negotiation process to ensure the three countries’ current containment strategy of the North’s nuclear weapons and missile development programs is not adversely affected.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 4, 2014)


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