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Experts discuss North Korea’s “smile diplomacy”

NHK’s Nichiyo Toron Sunday debate show aired a discussion among six scholars on North Korea’s “smile diplomacy” toward South Korea. Canon Institute for Global Studies Research Director Kunihiko Miyake expressed the view that although the economic sanctions on Pyongyang appear to be taking effect, the Kim regime probably has no intention to abandon its nuclear program. Nanzan University Professor Shunji Hiraiwa said that the DPRK is probably stepping up its conciliatory approach to South Korea because the United States has not responded positively to Pyongyang’s request for dialogue. University of Shizuoka Assistant Professor Hideki Okuzono speculated that President Moon is trying to promote dialogue with the Kim regime by taking advantage of the Olympics. Tokyo University Professor Fumiaki Kubo conjectured that the primary purpose of North Korea’s “smile diplomacy” is to drive a wedge into the trilateral coordination between the United States, Japan, and South Korea. Takushoku University Professor Takashi Kawakami said that if South Korea accepts a request from North Korea to cancel its planned joint military drills with the United States, a serious rift will form in the alliance between Washington and Seoul. Keio University Professor Yoshihide Soeya stated that Japan should keep a close eye on the DPRK’s next steps, including moves concerning the abductions.

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