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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:54 03/09/2007
News Review #383: February 15, 2007

Japan Caught in US-Korea Nuclear Net

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

Japan Caught in US-Korea Nuclear Net
(Robyn Lim) The Australian,20867,21227308-7583,00.html


The article introduced above is a well-written summary by one of the best Japan-watchers - very few to begin with, you know - who can, when necessary, think along the lines of an ordinary Japanese, but not to become drenched in it and able to provide a report with her own observations backed by ample knowledge and experience. (*)

So, here is a response to the "agreement" by an ordinary Japanese.

Ever since U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill was reported to have begun discussions with North Koreans in Berlin, Japanese media was generally quiet in reporting the events. The discussion was indeed a heavily guarded secret meeting with not much to leak out for the media to scrabble with. But the small amount of reports in Japan itself was an indication that the Japanese people were not really interested in the negotiation.

It was natural, however, for the news of the agreement to hit the headlines of virtually every media in Japan. But except for those traditionally said or alleged to be under the control of the rogue state, the comments of even the "liberal" media were cool to say the least, and even harsh at the times, obviously respecting, and reflecting the people's sentiment.

This sentiment by the Japanese people is based on a couple of reasons. The Japanese people have learned, especially during the past decade and half, that North Korea is simply not a responsible being. It is not to say that they think differently - which often occurs even among friends, or in such a case of Christians and Muslims -, North Korea does not observe the core of what the international community over the centuries, if not millenniums, have learned to recognize a basic rule that "pacta sunt servanda (agreements are to be kept)."

In addition, the strategic stances of the members were too clear and vivid. North Korea was desperate to obtain anything they can get with regard to energy and food. China had its own agenda, and South Korea had its own internal problems, as explained in the article above. And, of course, Mr Bush - he was wishing he would be recorded in history as the president who made the "2007 agreement," not as the president who fumbled with Iraq affairs and fueled the then subdued conflict between Christians and Muslims to flare up.

President Bush deliberately neglected the fact that his calling North Korea as the "axis of evil" along with Iraq and Iran in 2002 was in part to condemn the previous president, Mr Clinton, for concluding the "1994 agreement" with North Korea. Mr Bush had been criticizing that the lenient and ambiguous U.S. stance at the time as represented in the 1994 agreement was in effect what let the North Koreans deceive the world so easily, and merrily go on ahead with developing nuclear bombs. The agreement made this time, as the experts comment, do not maintain the levels the 1994 agreement had attained.

For the Japanese people, the smiling faces of the negotiators and the sly grim of Mr Bush were taken as a pressure to give up and sacrifice their colleagues, those abducted from Japan by North Korean government agents.

President Bush was reported to have made a phone call to Prime Minister Abe after the agreement was "cheerfully" referred to at his press conference. It has been reported that Mr Abe, with all his courteous and chosen words, expressed "concern" over the agreement.

To borrow an expression from the article introduced, "a bad deal is always worse than no deal at all." But apparently the deal has been signed. And it so happens that Japan is a country true to its word.

So, in the mean time, it is better for us to simply ignore the agreement - not the fact that they have nuclear bombs. North Korea's track record is simply too clear in telling us that any effort of making assumptions is not worth it. The only thing worth believing is what they actually did - and see it with our own eyes, not what they say they will do - of have done.

As a final note, - as hinted with the (*) in the top paragraph - is that there is a very minor flaw in the otherwise a fine piece of article introduced above. The article may give the impression that Japan might consider developing its own nuclear weapons in saying that "(The deal is likely to) strengthen the hand of those in Tokyo who say that Japan needs its own nuclear deterrent." On the contrary, it is simply unimaginable for any ordinary Japanese to even give a thought to developing a nuclear bomb. This is perhaps something more certain then the fact that North Korea never keeps its word.

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