Japanese editorial excerpts

Japanese editorial excerpts

TOKYO, Feb. 13 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the Japanese press:

JAPAN-N. KOREA TALKS OUTCOME OF PRESSURE (The Daily Yomiuri as translated from the Yomiuri Shimbun)

There is only one way to settle North Korea’s criminal abductions of Japanese nationals.

Pyongyang must immediately and unconditionally allow the family members of the former abductees to come to Japan. It must also admit that the abductions were state-commissioned crimes and reveal in minute detail everything in connection with the abduction cases. There is no other way to resolve this issue.

High-ranking Foreign Ministry officials are meeting with their North Korean counterparts in Pyongyang after the Stalinist state agreed to hold talks on the abduction and other issues. We hope the Japanese delegates will be prepared to abandon the talks if the North Koreans fail to show a sincere attitude to resolve these issues.

The government repeatedly has demanded that Pyongyang resume talks aimed at having the abductees’ immediate relatives to come to Japan. North Korea has refused.

At the end of last year, Pyongyang threw a wrench in the works by proposing at a meeting in Beijing to senior lawmakers trying to reunite the former abductees with their families that if the abductees traveled to North Korea, it would allow the family members to go to Japan.

North Korea agreed to hold talks because the Japanese government stepped up its pressure.

The Diet recently passed the revised Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law, which will allow the government to stop money transfers to and trade with North Korea. Pyongyang angrily responded by saying, ”(The revised law) is aimed at economically suffocating, isolating and crushing the country.” This shows how worried the North Koreans are about the imposition of economic sanctions.

In addition, another group of Diet members is moving toward submitting a bill to the current Diet session to regulate the entry of North Korean vessels into Japanese ports. In consideration of future talks with North Korea, it will be meaningful to have another card to increase the pressure.

Recently, Libya and Iran have come under international pressure over their nuclear development programs. In addition, Japan, the United States and Europe have strengthened their joint actions to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Because of these moves, North Korea is also feeling the heat.

The six-way talks on North Korea’s nuclear development program are scheduled to start on Feb. 25. Behind Pyongyang’s decision to accept Japan’s request to hold talks appears to be its intention to undermine cooperation between Japan, the United States and South Korea, using the abduction issue as leverage, and to try to improve the way the Japanese view North Korea while, at the same time, dividing Japanese public opinion.

For the time being, North Korea presumably hopes to coax food aid, such as rice, from Japan, and avoid economic sanctions. Also apparent is Pyongyang’s desire to win Japan’s economic assistance by normalizing diplomatic ties.

In the past, however, Japan ended up sending rice to North Korea without receiving anything in return. Such aid turned out to be useless in improving mutual relations. The government and ruling parties must remember the bitter lessons of the past.

In negotiating with North Korea, the government must hold to the principle of resolving not only the abduction issue, but also those involving Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development programs. At this stage of negotiations, it is vitally important to stick to principles.

(Feb. 13)

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