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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:52 03/09/2007
News Review #61: September 3, 2002

Japan PM to Make Historic North Korean Visit

Reviewed By Hitoshi URABE

"Japan PM to Make Historic North Korean Visit "
(by Elaine Lies, Reuters) Washington Post

Also refer to:
Weekly Review #63:
"How the Media views talks between North Korea and Japan"


While he may have been "doing nothing" according to his own words when Prime Minister Koizumi was taking a summer vacation toward the end of August, it is clear now that he was anxiously awaiting for a word from his negotiators in Beijing and elsewhere, on the outcome of the proposal for the summit meeting with Kim Jong Il.

The announcement for Mr Koizumi to visit North Korea and meet its leader Kim Jong Il on September 17 certainly was a surprise to everyone, except perhaps for a handful of government officials who were involved in the arrangement.

Mr Koizumi apparently had not consulted with his colleagues in his own party, the LDP, either, which itself is a very unusual procedure in Japan's politics. It might be interesting to note that no one, especially no senior politician, seems to be complaining of not having been consulted prior to the announcement, which is very unusual also. It could be because the issue of meeting with Kim Jong Il was so delicate and complicated, that no one would have wanted to get involved in the affair anyway.

It is a delicate issue indeed. After the announcement of the visit, supporters and adversaries have been presenting various views that show a significant diversification of opinions among people. Even among the senior lawmakers at LDP have expressed different views on the subject, the evaluation seem to differ widely.

Those who support the visit mostly base their reasoning on the notion that a top-level meeting in such a situation could do no worse than good. Many simply wish some progress between the two regimes would be established.

Most of those who oppose the visit are apparently not necessarily against the visit itself but out of skepticism. With the presumption that a few hours' top meeting would not provide enough time to achieve any material results, some accuse the plan to be only a political show, for Mr Koizumi and also for Kim Jong Il, who could claim to their people that the leader of Japan is coming all the way to pay respect to their leader. Some are anxious of backfiring, which is the risk of Mr Koizumi to return empty-handed, not having anything to show as a result. Moreover, even if he were to achieve something, it would never be enough to satisfy the people who tend to expect everything.

It would be very nice if we could live in peace and be friendly with our neighbors, including North Korea. This would, therefore, be a wonderful opportunity to begin to set things straight.

Having said that, North Korea has kidnapped our people, shot missiles over our land, and attacked our coast guard ships, among other incidents. Let us hope that Mr Koizumi will not try to achieve any product in haste. While fully sympathizing with the abducted people and their families, at stake is the safety and well-being of us all.

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