While the Japanese government evaluates to a certain degree North Korea’s participation in the Pyeongchang Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, it suspects that North Korea, which continues its nuclear and missile development, is attempting to divide the international community, which is putting pressure on North Korea, by creating a mood for reconciliation.
Referring to an agreement between North Korea and South Korea to form a South-North joint team and march jointly at the opening ceremony of the Olympics, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference on Jan. 18, “We positively evaluate North Korea’s participation in the Olympics.” However, Suga emphasized, “As North Korea continues its nuclear and missile development, we will have information from South Korea on the results of their recent talks and we will compare and adjust the future North Korea policy between Tokyo and Seoul.
In his talks with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull held on Jan. 18, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, referring to the improvement of North Korea’s nuclear and missile technology, said, “The situation is rather becoming worse,” calling for caution about the sign of appeasement between South Korea and North Korea. The Japanese government regards North Korea’s recent approach for dialogue as “gaining time to push ahead with its nuclear and missile development” (in the words of a senior official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
As Japan has taken the lead in increasing pressure on North Korea, if South Korea goes ahead with easing economic sanctions on Pyongyang, it would lead to dividing cooperation among Japan, the U.S. and South Korea. In addition, it would be difficult to call on China and Russia to toughen sanctions on North Korea.
For this reason, the Japanese government in cooperation with the U.S. government intends to urge South Korea not to easily make any compromise.