By Hitoshi Tanaka, chairman of Institute for International Strategy, Japan Research Institute
The Korean Peninsula will be unstable as long as South Korea and North Korea remain hostile toward each other. Thus the inter-Korean summit was of great significance. The latest summit produced substantial results with its declaration of a fundamental policy to improve the inter-Korean relationship by placing an all-out ban on hostile action and confirming denuclearization. It also presented a vision to build peace on the Korean Peninsula. To translate this into actual peace on the peninsula, sufficient discussions with concerned nations will become mandatory.
I hope the U.S. and North Korea will clinch a deal on denuclearization when their leaders meet. North Korea will assert a phased approach of ratcheting up demands in return as denuclearization makes headway. On this point, the U.S. and North Korea are widely divided, as Washington calls for “compete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.” Denuclearization efforts will come to naught if the sanctions and pressure against the North are slackened in the middle of the process.
There are few working-level experts on Korean Peninsula issues inside the U.S. government. This gives rise to concern that U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies are unpredictable. President Trump is in the middle of the “Russiagate” scandal and facing headwinds on the domestic front. If the U.S.-North Korea summit fails, the chances of the U.S. considering military action will increase.
The “carrot and stick” approach did not prove successful in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear development. I would like to propose a holistic approach named “P3C” as a new strategy for denuclearization. “P3C” calls for effective “pressure” in partnership with China; “coordination” between the U.S., China, Japan and South Korea; “contingency planning”; and building a “communication channel” with the North. I want the government to adopt this holistic strategy to deal with the DPRK.
The U.S. and North Korea alone cannot move forward the process toward denuclearization. It is in Japan’s interest to resolve the abduction issue and North Korea’s nuclear and missile development in a comprehensive and peaceful fashion. It would be good for Japan if the U.S.-North Korea summit created momentum for a return to the point in the Six-Party talks held in 2005 when North Korea promised Japan, China, the U.S., South Korea and Russia that it would give up its nuclear weapons.