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Editorial: Deal with North Korea through a strong Japan-U.S. alliance

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be visiting the U.S. for summit talks with President Donald Trump. The main items on the agenda are North Korea’s nuclear arms and ballistic missiles, rescuing the Japanese abduction victims, and bilateral trade.

 

A U.S.-DPRK summit is slated for some time between May and early June. This meeting will have a profound impact on Japan’s survival and prosperity and on the people’s security.

 

The Japan-U.S. summit being held before this summit will be an important occasion to coordinate views. We hope the Prime Minister will go to this meeting with the awareness that he holds in his hands the lives of the Japanese people.

 

The most important thing is to urge Trump to pursue the security of Japan and the U.S. at the U.S.-DPRK talks. That includes, of course, the abduction issue. 

 

The U.S. will practically lose its security foothold in Asia if a rift emerges in the Japan-U.S. alliance, and this will endanger the security of the U.S. mainland. The Prime Minister needs to make President Trump realize this.

 

The goal should be North Korea’s denuclearization. The Prime Minister must remind President Trump not to be drawn into taking such steps as withdrawing U.S. Forces Korea. The hollowing out of the U.S.-ROK alliance and a situation that would undermine the security of Japan and the region must be avoided by all means.

 

Denuclearization must result in the complete abandonment of all nuclear weapons and missiles. Without complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization (CVID), North Korea may still possess nuclear arms surreptitiously and continue to develop them in secret. It is important to conduct freely continual inspections over the entire North Korean territory. 

 

The abandonment of ICBMs capable of attacking the U.S. mainland alone will not resolve the missile issue because Rodong missiles and other intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBM) and mid-range missiles (MRBM) targeting Japan have actually been deployed.

 

North Korea’s proposal for a “phased” approach that will allow it to be rewarded with the easing of sanctions or aid in return for small steps toward “denuclearization” is out of the question. Such an approach would only buy time for it to complete the development of its nuclear force.

 

Japan, the U.S., and the international community should persist in applying maximum pressure until North Korea abandons its nuclear arms and missiles.

 

The U.S., the UK, and France attacked Syria to demonstrate that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. North Korea also possesses chemical weapons, as shown by their use in the assassination of Kim Jong Nam. The removal of the threat of chemical weapons is also indispensable.

 

In order to maintain pressure on North Korea, it is also necessary for the Japanese and U.S. leaders to discuss how to prepare for heightened tension in case the U.S.-DPRK talks fail. The summit will be a good opportunity to discuss non-combatant evacuation operations (NEO) for civilians in the ROK and Japan-U.S. cooperation in a contingency.

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