summary the views expressed in the following are those of

(Summary) [The views expressed in the following are those of the - PDF document

(Summary) [The views expressed in the following are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Japan] Introduction It is rather substance which prevents Japan-North Korean relations from moving forward. These

  1. (Summary) [The views expressed in the following are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Japan] Introduction It is rather substance which prevents Japan-North Korean relations from moving forward. These are (1) North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, (2) its ballistic missile development and (3) the abduction of Japanese citizens. Let me take a little time to share with you where we are on each of those issues today. 1. The History between Japan and North Korea First, I would like to set the context. Volatility in the Korean Peninsula should not be seen as an emerging issue; as far as Japan is concerned, it has long been a pressing concern. The Korean Peninsula has always been strategically important for Japan due to its geographical proximity and as a gateway to the wider continent. To give you an understanding of just how close the Korean Peninsula is to Japan, the distance across the Tsushima Strait Western Channels (50kms) is comparable to the Strait of Dover (34kms). An American observer once stated that the Korean Peninsula is like the Sword of Damocles pointed at the heart of Japan. Throughout history, Japan has fought several battles with its neighbouring countries over the Korean Peninsula. Japan’s only historical experience of foreign invasion to its main islands before World War II was the attack by the Yuan Dynasty of China ruled by Mongolians and the Korean Goryeo Dynasty in the 13 th century – both attacking Japan from the Korean Peninsula. Two major wars in the late 19 th /early 20 th centuries, namely the Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War, were fought over the control of the Korean Peninsula. After the Japanese colonial rule of Korea between 1910 and 1945 came to

  2. an end, the former Soviet Union then occupied the Korean Peninsula north of the 38th parallel. In 1948 the Republic of Korea (ROK) was founded alongside a separate regime in the North. Japan normalised relations with South Korea in 1965. The improvement in the relationship between the North and South and the change in the international environment surrounding the Korean Peninsula in the early 1990s brought about, at long last, the chance to start the negotiations on normalising the relationship between Japan and North Korea. But there was little progress in the 1990s. Then in September 2002, the then Japanese Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, demonstrated bold leadership to visit Pyongyang and had a summit meeting with the late North Korean Leader, Kim Jong-Il, where both leaders signed the Pyongyang Declaration. You can find this at the back of the materials I have distributed today. In accordance with the Declaration, Japan has made every effort to normalise relations with its neighbour by seeking a comprehensive solution to the unresolved issues of North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programme and the abduction of Japanese nationals. However, North Korea has refused to take any serious steps towards tackling these since August 2008. 2. Security Concerns about North Korea a) North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Programme North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Programme is a serious threat to Japan’s national security and is a clear and present danger to the peace and stability of Northeast Asia and the wider world. The progress the North Koreans have made in their nuclear weapons programme far exceeds that of Iran’s as it is said that they have already conducted two underground nuclear tests, they operate thousands of centrifuges, and the North Korean regime has repeatedly made statements regarding its nuclear ambitions and progress towards meeting them. The widely held view in the international community is that North Korea already possesses several nuclear warheads. b) North Korea’s Ballistic Missile Development North Korea has been developing long range ballistic missiles as the delivery mechanism for its nuclear devices. The country has conducted three sets of ballistic missile launch tests over the past 14 years: in 1998, 2006, and in

  3. 2009. North Korea euphemistically calls all the missiles “satellites.” Two of the missiles reached over Japan to the Pacific Ocean. c) Military Confrontation on the Korean Peninsula Despite the collapse of their economy, North Korea has been committed to building up its military capability. They have one of the world’s largest armies with over one million active personnel. On a per capita basis, their army is easily the largest in the world. The North Korean armed forces have also continued to prepare new infiltration exercises into South Korea. In addition, they have sizeable Special Operations Forces with around 100,000 personnel which are trained in intelligence gathering, sabotage and guerrilla warfare. d) Escalation of Military Provocation against the Republic of Korea In recent years we have witnessed the stepping up of military provocation by North Korea against the South. The sinking of the South Korean Cheonan warship in March 2010 was very likely to have been conducted by North Korea. More recently, in November 2010, the North bombarded Yeonpyeong Island while South Korea was engaged in non-threatening firing exercises off the coast of the island. North Korea’s unprovoked artillery attack killed two South Korean marines and two civilians. 3. Abductions of Japanese Citizens by North Korea a) Background During the 1970’s and 1980’s, a number of Japanese citizens disappeared under unusual circumstances. Investigations by the Japanese authorities, and testimony by North Korean agents who had defected, revealed that these disappearances might have been the result of North Korean state-sponsored abductions. Since 1991, the Government of Japan has therefore campaigned tirelessly for justice for its citizens and has brought up the abduction issue at every opportunity. After repeated denials of any involvement, the late North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, finally and unambiguously admitted at the Pyongyang summit held in September 2002 that some elements within the North Korean authorities had in fact been responsible for these abductions. The Government of Japan has so far identified 12 abduction incidents by

  4. North Korea involving 17 Japanese citizens in total. In October 2002, five of the 17 victims were finally allowed to return to Japan, having been missing for 24 years. The whereabouts of the others sadly remain unknown. Despite North Korea’s clear commitment to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into what happened, they still have not provided any credible explanation for what has happened to the remaining 12 victims. The abduction issue is of vital importance. It concerns the sovereignty of Japan and the lives and safety of our citizens. The Government of Japan demands that North Korea account for those who are missing and immediately return them to their families in Japan. b) An Ongoing Issue – Case Study: Ms. Megumi Yokota The abductions should not be seen as historical events; the issue is very much a live one for Japan, especially for the families of the victims. In November 1977, Ms. Megumi Yokota was abducted when she was just 13 years old. She was taken while she was on her way home from school near the coast facing the Sea of Japan. Since then, for almost 35 years, her family has suffered severe anguish while waiting in hope for her return. North Korea claims that she committed suicide, and at one time, even provided the Japanese Government with alleged bones of Ms. Yokota as an evidence of her death. But those bones turned out to be of other individuals. Her parents are now in their late seventies but they have not given up and continue to fight for her rescue. c) International Issues The abduction issue is not just a bilateral matter between Japan and North Korea; it is an issue of international concern. Testimony from the abductees who have returned to Japan has indicated that there are people in North Korea from countries including Thailand, Romania, Lebanon, and South Korea who are believed to have been abducted. Even among the Japanese victims, three were abducted far away from North Korea, in London and Madrid.

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