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Japan wary of declaration on end of Korean War eclipsing DPRK denuclearization

The Japanese government is anxious about a declaration to officially end the Korean War (1950-1953) because it fears that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula may be put on the back burner, resulting in adverse effects on security. It is believed that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will convey this concern to President Donald Trump during his visit to the U.S. and persuade him not to agree readily to issue a declaration.


The ROK and North Korea are keen on the declaration on the end of war. In his news conference held after the latest North-South summit, ROK President Moon Jae-in stated that he will aim at issuing a declaration within this year, indicating that the declaration will not affect the status of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK). It is reckoned that the “reciprocal action” cited in the “September Pyongyang Joint Declaration” as precondition for North Korea’s dismantling of its nuclear facilities refers to this declaration.


Japan is wary of this move. A senior government official distanced himself from this proposition, stating: “This is just a matter of Mr. Moon saying so.” A senior Foreign Ministry official also said: “The Pyongyang Joint Declaration says nothing about a declaration of the end of war and (details of their discussions) are not available. The declaration is a matter to be negotiated by the U.S. and North Korea.” Foreign Minister Taro Kono has also maintained that the declaration should not come before denuclearization.


Although Moon explained that the declaration will be a political declaration, it is fully possible that North Korea may use this as an excuse to demand the discontinuation of U.S.-ROK military exercises and so forth. Trump mentioned the possibility of reducing or withdrawing USFK in the future at the U.S.-DPRK summit in June, but the Japanese government “definitely has no desire” to see drastic changes in the security environment in Japan’s periphery, according to the above senior official. (Slightly abridged)

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