By Nanzan University Prof. Shunji Hiraiwa, specializing in contemporary Korean studies
Both the U.S. and North Korea probably want to go ahead with the summit. Workers’ Party of Korea Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol is a military officer who is in a position to advise Chairman Kim Jong Un. Kim Jong Un has dispatched somebody who is able to engage in concrete discussions with the U.S.
While Trump’s method of holding several summit meetings, instead of holding repeated prior consultations, to work for denuclearization is unusual, it appears that he has shifted to a more realistic approach in his desire to “change North Korea, even if this would take time.” He must have realized through the contacts in New York, Singapore, and Panmunjom after the bilateral summit was cancelled that unilateral demands will not work.
The U.S. has not changed its position that it will not provide economic cooperation in stages without complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization (CVID), while North Korea has not changed its position of setting “a guarantee for its regime” as the condition for denuclearization.
However, the U.S. is acquiescing in economic aid to North Korea from China and the ROK. Easing of sanctions on the DPRK by its neighbors would be the U.S.’s concession. A system of peace involving China and the ROK would also constitute a “guarantee” for North Korea’s regime.
There is no need for the Japanese government to change its position based on the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration that it will not be able to provide economic cooperation unless the nuclear, missile, and abduction issues are resolved. It should continue to emphasize its position to the U.S. to make sure that America does not easily compromise on these issues in negotiations with North Korea.