Libmonster ID: JP-1287
Author(s) of the publication: V. A. HRYNIUK
Educational Institution \ Organization: Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Japanese-North Korean talks on the problems of abducted Japanese citizens, normalization of relations between the two states and security issues (around the DPRK's nuclear and missile programs) were held in Beijing on February 4-8, 2006.

The Japanese side claimed (and still insists) that the DPRK is still forcibly detaining 12 abducted Japanese citizens.

Tokyo has put forward demands: a) to immediately return to Japan all the survivors of the abducted Japanese citizens; b) to thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the abductions; c) to hand over to the Japanese authorities the direct perpetrators of the crimes, Shin Gwang-soo, Kim Sae-ho and K. Uomoto.1


However, the heated discussion once again revealed irreconcilable contradictions between the parties. North Korean officials refused to hand over three suspected criminals to Japan. They referred to the fact that Shin Gwang Soo is elderly and has health problems, K. Uomoto is a political refugee, and as for Kim Sae Ho, they do not have any information about this person at all. Moreover, the delegation of the DPRK, in turn, made accusations, condemning the activities of Japanese non-governmental organizations that provided assistance to North Korean refugees from the territory of the PRC. North Korean diplomats said that Japanese organizations " kidnap and forcibly take away citizens of the DPRK from its areas located near the border with China." Representatives of Pyongyang demanded to hand over to the North Korean authorities seven Japanese leaders and activists of these non-governmental organizations as persons who violated the criminal code of the DPRK.2

Under the influence of active propaganda against the DPRK, the idea of economic sanctions against North Korea became popular in Japan. During the September 2005 elections to the House of Representatives of the Japanese Parliament, Kazokukai conducted a survey of parliamentary candidates on their approach to the idea of imposing sanctions against the DPRK. 45% of the candidates supported the idea of sanctions. At the same time, out of 362 newly elected deputies of the lower house of Parliament who answered the questionnaire, about 70% supported sanctions.3

However, the Japanese leadership does not consider Tokyo's economic sanctions to be an effective means of influencing North Korea's policy. A prominent figure of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, Ishiba Shigeru, who held the post of head of the National Defense Department in 2002-2004, believes that there is no recipe for a quick solution to the problem of kidnappings. In his opinion, economic sanctions could be effective if they were supported by the international community, so Japan should seek international support for its position.4


Indeed, the Japanese leadership is trying to give the problem of abductions by the DPRK's special services an international dimension. The final document of the Group of Eight summit in Sea Island (USA) in June 2004 expressed support for the six-party talks on the settlement of the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula, efforts to comprehensively resolve the problems of nuclear weapons and security. At the same time, it referred to the need to address the issue of abduction of citizens and other humanitarian problems.5

On October 27, 2005, the topic of abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korean intelligence agencies was discussed in the Third Committee (on human rights) of the UN General Assembly. On December 16, 2005, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution by a majority of 88 votes condemning the abductions as "organized human rights violations"6. In June 2010, at the Group of Eight summit in Huntsville, Canada, the leaders of States issued a statement on the need to immediately address the problem of abductions7.

Japanese press reports also serve to" internationalize " this issue, stating that not only Japanese, but also people of other nationalities became prisoners of North Korean intelligence officers.8 In October 2005, the Ministry of Unification of the Republic of Korea published information that 55 citizens were abducted from this country by the special services of the DPRK, 11 of them are alive, 10 have died, and the fate of another 34 people has not been established.9

In the fall of 2006, the government of the Liberal Democratic Party led by Shinzo Abe came to power in Japan. The new Prime Minister, who became widely known thanks to

Ending. For the beginning, see: Asia and Africa Today, 2012, No. 9.

page 41

In response to the unreconcilable position on North Korea, he declared the issue of kidnappings "the most important problem of the country" and established a special headquarters on the problem of kidnappings to resolve it. This body was headed by the Prime Minister himself, and the staff included all government ministers. Using significant resources (in 2008, the headquarters ' budget was 677 million yen-about $8 million), this structure conducted political research, collected and processed information, conducted educational activities and maintained public relations, and organized radio broadcasts aimed at North Korea. The headquarters distributed posters, pamphlets, and DVD recordings in Japan and abroad containing ideas of North Korean brutality and inhumanity to the abductions committed by the DPRK.10

In Japan, which is characterized by strong community and family ties, the tragic events associated with the abduction and possibly death of innocent people in a foreign country are particularly acute. Moreover, the information about the prisoners transmitted by the North Korean authorities to the Japanese side is incomplete and contradictory. According to a survey conducted in Japan in October 2005, the problem of abducted compatriots occupied 90% of respondents, while the problem of nuclear development in the DPRK concerned 66% of respondents, and North Korean missiles-61%11.


At the same time, it should not be forgotten that by exaggerating the topic of abductions of Japanese people by North Korean agents, the Japanese media have forgotten the crimes committed by Japanese militarists against the Korean people during the period of colonial rule. Among other things, they included the abduction of hundreds of thousands of Koreans and Korean women: men were used for forced labor in Japan and South Sakhalin, and women were forced to provide sexual services to the Japanese military.

Under the influence of extremist Sukuukai and Kajokukai speeches, propaganda activities of the government headquarters and the media, the problem of kidnappings gradually acquired for the Japanese a kind of obsession-about the same as the problem of the "northern territories". Japan is often criticized internationally for trying to justify its militaristic past. In this country, the crimes of the Japanese militarists were not strongly condemned to the extent that the Germans condemn the actions of the Nazis. Many residents of the Land of the Rising Sun find in the topic of kidnappings a reason to justify Japan's colonial rule over Korea in 1910-1945, since in the history of kidnappings, Japan is the injured party. Just as Japan's territorial claims to our country hinder the development of Russian-Japanese relations, raising the issue of kidnappings (for all its importance) is the main obstacle to restoring interstate ties between Japan and the DPRK.

Understanding the complexity of the problems of Japanese-North Korean relations, authoritative Japanese experts call for restraint and patience in their approach to them. In September 2002, Hideyuki Tanaka, Head of the Department of Asia and Oceania of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, participated in confidential talks with representatives of Pyongyang, which paved the way for the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Dz.Koizumi in North Korea. Later in one of his articles Tanaka noted: "After this visit, sentiment against North Korea has increased in Japan in connection with the problem of abductions of Japanese citizens... The dangerous thing is that in Japanese-North Korean relations there is a confrontation of emotions. There are strong doubts about the position of the media, which paint events in black and white, make unilateral attacks and excite public opinion. " 12

For such statements, the diplomat was attacked by extremists. On September 10, 2003, activists of an ultra-right organization placed a dummy explosive device in his house. Following this, an influential politician, Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro publicly stated:: "Tanaka was planted with a bomb, and this is natural. He conducted secret negotiations with North Korean representatives and danced to their tune. " 13

Disproportionate and inappropriate pressure on the issue of abductions has negatively affected the progress of the six-party talks on resolving the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula. When Prime Minister Abe tried to put the issue of abductions of Japanese citizens at the center of the agenda of the six-party talks, South Korea criticized the Japanese leader, accusing him of trying to "hijack" this international forum and thereby undermining international efforts to force North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.. This position of the Republic of Korea was given special weight by the fact that this state, like Japan, has a problem of forcibly detaining its citizens in the DPRK. The difference in priorities - in contrast to official Tokyo, in Seoul, the problem of nuclear threat was considered more important than the problem of human rights violations.


In February 2007, a joint agreement was reached by all the States participating in the negotiations (China, the DPRK, the Republic of Korea, Russia, the United States and Japan) that North Korea would actually begin to curtail its nuclear program, and other countries would provide emergency economic assistance to the DPRK. But contrary to the general consensus, Tokyo has said it will not provide any assistance to the DPRK until the issue of abductees is resolved. Therefore, the dangerous actions of the DPRK that followed - the withdrawal from the six-party talks, the launch of a ballistic missile in May, and the test explosion of a nuclear device in June 2009-can be considered a signal not only to the United States, but also to Japan. After all, Tokyo essentially refused to follow the provisions of " Pyongyang-

page 42

The Declaration of September 2002, which provided for Japan's economic assistance to North Korea and the DPRK's moratorium on ballistic missile launches.

Neither the Government of Y. Fukuda (September 2007 - September 2008), nor the government Cabinet of T. Fukuda. The Aso (September 2008-August 2009) failed to move forward the issue of abductions and bring the normalization of relations between Japan and the DPRK closer.

After the victory of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in the parliamentary elections of August 30, 2009, Pyongyang hoped that the new Japanese government, headed by Yu. Hatoyama will take a more flexible stance on this issue than the previous Liberal Democratic Party cabinets.15

Indeed, Hatoyama and other representatives of the Democratic Party made a number of statements and steps that could be interpreted as conciliatory towards the North Korean partners. On October 13, 2009, the Prime Minister announced the liquidation of the Headquarters for the Problem of Abductees, established in 2006 by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and established a new structure to replace it. All cabinet ministers took part in the work of the headquarters, and the newly created working group included the Prime Minister and three members of the government (although the staff of the secretariat was increased from 30 to 40). Kazokukai representatives expressed concern that the new Government is not paying enough attention to the problem of kidnappings. The Yomiuri newspaper of December 16, 2009 noted that the Hatoyama government removed from the program of measures to resolve the problem of abductions the clause on the transfer by the North Korean side to Japan of agents responsible for abductions of Japanese people. This was interpreted as a major concession to Pyongyang.16

But all the moves of the DPJ government were mainly propaganda in nature. In fact, the attitude of official Tokyo towards North Korea under the government of the Democratic Party of Japan has not changed. On October 30, 2009, the Government submitted to Parliament a draft law allowing the Japanese Security Administration to inspect ships carrying cargo to the DPRK from that country. On 28 May 2010, the relevant law was adopted by Parliament17.

The incident with the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan on March 26, 2010, greatly aggravated tensions between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea. Tokyo supports Seoul's accusations against Pyongyang 18. In early April 2010, the Japanese Government decided to extend for one year the previously imposed economic sanctions against the DPRK.19

On June 4, 2010, the new government cabinet of the Democratic Party of Japan was headed by Naoto Kan. There were no changes in the line of official Tokyo in relation to the DPRK.

August 29, 2010 marked the 100th anniversary of the annexation of Korea by Japan. Shortly before this date, on August 10, Prime Minister N. Kang issued an official statement that recognized the violent nature of the" annexation " of Korea and the colonial rule against this country. However, the Japanese leader's apology was sent only to the Republic of Korea, and the Prime Minister did not even mention the DPRK. This caused sharp criticism from the North Korean Foreign Ministry. In addition, a group of North Korean citizens who suffered as a result of Japan's colonial policy sent a letter to the Japanese government demanding "immediate apology and compensation" for their suffering.20

After North Korea launched an artillery attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeongdo on November 23, 2010, the situation on the Korean Peninsula escalated. Pyongyang explained these actions as a response to the provocative incursions of the South Korean military into the territorial waters of the DPRK. However, it is widely believed in Japan that North Korea's dangerous move was related to internal problems in the country and the process of transferring supreme power from Kim Jong Il to his son Kim Jong Un. There were speculations about the possibility of destabilizing the North Korean regime.

In this situation, on December 10, 2010, Prime Minister Kang, at a meeting with relatives of the abducted Japanese citizens, said that the government should provide for the deployment of Self-Defense Forces to rescue Japanese people in North Korea in case of "unforeseen circumstances" on the Korean Peninsula. The South Korean newspaper Chonan Ilbo, in an editorial dated December 15, 2010, noted that the Japanese prime minister's remarks showed "disrespect for Korea, where bitterness over the Japanese invasion still persists." 21

The misfortunes that befell Japan on March 11, 2011 (the earthquake, tsunami and accident at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant) caused a wave of sympathy and solidarity with the Japanese people in the world. North Korea provided $100 thousand in aid to the victims. 22

Due to the failures in domestic policy (first of all, the unsatisfactory solution of the problems that arose due to the disaster of March 11, 2011), the government of N. Kahn in August

Retired in 2011. The new government cabinet on September 2 was headed by former Finance Minister Noda Yoshihiko, who won the election of the chairman of the Democratic Party of Japan the day before. The change of prime minister does not portend positive changes in Japan's relations with North Korea - on the contrary, new difficulties are possible.

Previously, DPJ leaders had declared a principled refusal to visit the Yasukuni Shrine, which, along with hundreds of thousands of Imperial military personnel, deified the souls of fourteen Class A war criminals convicted by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in November 1948. Class A criminals are no longer war criminals"23. Actual acquittal by Japan's leader

page 43

The militarists ' crimes have caused new complications in Japan's relations with China, as well as with the ROK and the DPRK.


Today, Japan is increasingly criticizing the inflexible position of the country's leadership, which rigidly links the issue of normalizing relations with the DPRK with the painful problem of abductions of citizens. The already mentioned Japanese historian X. Wada considers the Japanese leadership's policy towards the DPRK to be erroneous, which provides, first of all, for solving the problem of abductions of Japanese citizens and the nuclear problem, and only then normalizing bilateral ties. According to the scientist, the normalization of Japanese-North Korean interstate relations should be given priority. In the preamble of the treaty on the basis of relations between Japan and the DPRK, it would be appropriate to include an objective assessment of Japan's colonial rule in Korea. By continuing the negotiations, it would be possible to agree on economic cooperation.

H. Wada believes that the DPRK remains committed to overcoming the impasse in its relations with Japan. 24 K. Fujiwara, a professor of law at the University of Tokyo, believes that the initial position of the Japanese government in negotiations with North Korea should be to preserve the current regime of the DPRK and avoid destroying the foundations of life of its population. In this case, it would be possible to count on concessions from the DPRK in important issues for Japan.25

At the same time, many Japanese experts associate the prospects for a final settlement of the problem of abduction of citizens by the special services of the DPRK with a change in the political regime of North Korea. Osawa Masachi, Ph. D., Associate Professor at Kyoto University, is an illustrative example. He believes that just as the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was prepared by the mass emigration of GDR citizens through Hungary to Germany, the impetus for the process of democratization (and in fact, for a change in the political system in the DPRK) could be mass emigration from North Korea. According to Osawa, Tokyo should facilitate the mass exodus of North Koreans from the country.26

The formula proposed by M. Osawa is a kind of recipe for "exporting democracy" to the north of the Korean Peninsula. However, as recent events have demonstrated, the imposition of Western models of political structure on other countries does not bring success. In particular, the attempt to" export democracy " to Iraq, undertaken by the United States and its allies, as well as the operation in Libya, conducted jointly by the United States and NATO in 2011, showed the futility and danger of such actions.

The demise of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in December 2011 may strengthen the desire of the most implacable opponents of the DPRK in Japan to seek a change in the political regime of North Korea, and encourage zealous "champions of democracy" to interfere in the affairs of the neighboring country. At the same time, it is possible that a violation of stability in the DPRK will result not only in hardships for the population of North Korea, but may also pose a danger to other neighboring countries in the East Asian region.

1 Shin Gwang-soo is suspected of abducting Timur Yasushi, Hamamoto Fukie and Hara Tadaaaki. Kim Sae Ho is suspected of kidnapping Kume Yutaka. Uomoto Kimihiro, a member of the leftist extremist group that hijacked the Yodo-go passenger plane from Japan to North Korea in 1970, is believed to be the abductor of Arimoto Keiko from the UK -

2 Yomiuri, 08.02.2006.

3 02.htm

Ishiba Shigeru. 4 Kokubo (National Defense). Tokyo, Sintesya Publ., 2005, p. 132.

5 Yomiuri, 11.06.2004.

6 Sankei Shimbun, 23.12.2005.

7 pdfs/abductions_ru.pdf

8 Yomiuri, 08.10.2005.


Haruki Wadai. 10 Japan-North Korea Relations - A Dangerous Stalemate. The Asia-Pacific Journal, 25 - 2-09 -

11 Sankei, 01.11.2006.

Tanaka Xumocu. 12 Tabu o yaburazushite nihon no mirai wa pai (Japan will not have a future without breaking the tabu) / / Rondza, 11.2005, p. 154.

Aoki Osamu. 13 Kajokukai to Sukuukai no juni nan (12 years of the "National Association of Families of Japanese Abducted by North Korea" and "National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Abducted by North Korea") / / Sekai, 2010, N 1, p.74.

AxelBerkofsky. 14 Japan's North Korea Policy: Trends, controversies, and impact on Japan's overall defense and security policy // AIESSTUDIEN. N 2. May 2011, p. 6.

Kang David. 15 Ji-Yang Lee. Japan-Korea Relations: Japan's New Government: Hope and Optimism - http:/ www.csis/org/media/ csis/pubs/0903qj apan_korea.pdf

Kang David, Ji-Yang Lee. 16 Japan-Korean Relations: Small Signs of Progress? - http:/www.csis/org/media/csis/pubs/0904qjapan korea.pdf

17 Ibidem.

18 Meanwhile, the cause of the crash of the South Korean ship remained unclear. There is no convincing evidence of a "North Korean footprint".

19 After Pyongyang conducted a ballistic missile test in 2006. Tokyo has banned North Korean naval vessels from entering Japanese ports, stopped importing goods from North Korea to Japan, and stopped exporting luxury goods from Japan to the DPRK. In 2009, after the second test of a North Korean nuclear device, a complete ban was imposed on the export of goods from Japan to North Korea.

20 The Japan Times, 13.08.2010.

Kang David, Ji- Young Lee. 21 Japan-Korea Relations: The New Cold War in Asia? - http:/ korea.pdf

David Kang,Jiun Bang. 22 Japan-Korea Relations: Japan's Tragedy Overshadows Everything - http:/

23 Asahi, 18.08.2011.

24 Tesen sekuminti shihai to wa nani date no ka? (What was the colonial rule in Korea?) // Sekai, 2010, N 1, pp. 157-158.

25 Ibid., p. 159.

Osawa Masachi. 26 Genjitsu no muko (Beyond reality). Tokyo, 2005, pp. 51-52.


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