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Editorial: Japan, U.S. must closely cooperate to push North Korea’s denuclearization

Japan and the United States aim to ensure peace and stability in Asia by eliminating the threat from North Korea. To realize this, the two countries need to deepen their policy coordination.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the United States and held talks with U.S. President Donald Trump. They confirmed a stance to maintain sanctions against North Korea until the country takes concrete actions for denuclearization. Abe stressed at a joint press conference, “Japan’s position is in line with that of the United States.”


As Abe had just visited the United States in mid-April, this revisit was exceptional. Ahead of the upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit on Tuesday, it is timely to analyze the latest information and closely coordinate measures.


At the joint press conference, Trump said: “Maximum pressure is absolutely in effect. We don’t use the term anymore because we’re going into a friendly negotiation [with North Korea].”


Trump also mentioned the possibility that negotiations with Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, would be protracted.


It is a common practice by North Korea to gain rewards by dangling concessions.


Trump’s diplomacy, which focuses on making a deal, has the risk of being taken advantage of by the opponent. North Korea should be dealt with under a consistent negotiating style. Abe seems to have the important role of continuing to push this point to Trump.


A crucial matter is the “complete, verifiable and irreversible nuclear dismantlement” of North Korea. To ensure regional security, dismantling all ballistic missiles as well as biological and chemical weapons is also essential.


Assimilating views vital


Through various opportunities, the government is urged to conform its views to those of the Trump administration.


Trump also revealed that he is considering declaring an end to the Korean War at the U.S.-North Korea summit.


Even though he advocates the end of the Korean War, the military threat will not be reduced. Trump should avoid lightly bringing up the subjects of withdrawal or reduction of U.S. forces stationed in South Korea.


Abe’s latest visit to the United States was also aimed at pressing Trump to raise at the U.S.-North Korea summit the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea. It is assuring that Trump clearly stated at the press conference that he will “absolutely” discuss the issue with Pyongyang.


In a bid to reveal the whole picture of the abductions and bring all the abductees back to Japan, this could become a great opportunity to make the North Korean leader make a political decision.


At the press conference, Abe expressed his strong willingness to realize talks with Kim. He added, “We are prepared to settle the unfortunate past, normalize diplomatic relations and provide economic cooperation.”


If the issues of nuclear and missile development and the abductions are not resolved comprehensively, the normalization of diplomatic ties between Japan and North Korea will not be realized. While adhering to this principle, the government must carefully proceed with negotiations with Pyongyang.

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