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INTERNATIONAL > East Asia & Pacific

Japan, U.S. wary of possible concessions by ROK in dialogue with DPRK

All Saturday papers reported extensively on the agreement reached on Friday between North and South Korea to hold a meeting between senior officials at Panmunjom on Jan. 9 to discuss the North’s possible participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and bilateral issues of mutual concern. The papers claimed that although the U.S. and Japan are outwardly supportive of a possible thaw in relations between the two Koreas, they are actually skeptical of Pyongyang’s motives and concerned about Seoul possibly being tempted to make unwarranted concessions. All national dailies except Asahi and Nikkei said that U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun spoke by phone with MOFA Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director General Kanasugi on Friday and emphasized the importance of applying maximum pressure to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile ambitions.


Pointing out that some ROK officials are insisting that the annual Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises between the U.S. and South Korea be scaled down or merged with Freedom Guardian, which is typically held in the summer, on the condition that Pyongyang refrains from provocations during the Olympics, Asahi wrote that the Trump administration will likely not accept such a compromise. According to today’s Asahi, the USG has pressed the ROK government not to address such issues as the North’s nuclear and missile development and the planned U.S.-ROK military exercises.  Saturday’s Sankei said the USG is strongly committed to realizing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, explaining that Washington has reportedly warned “pro-dialogue” Seoul not to condone North Korea’s efforts to disrupt bilateral unity.


Meanwhile, Nikkei wrote that the postponement of the Foal Eagle/Key Resolve exercises until after the PyeongChang Paralympics has worked out well for the U.S. since the ongoing regular maintenance of the USS Ronald Reagan at Yokosuka will probably be completed by then, allowing the U.S. military to potentially have as many as three aircraft carriers operating in the vicinity of the Korean Peninsula by around April.

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