Washington Rejects North Korea’s Bid to Exclude Japan

The United States yesterday rejected North Korea’s demand that Japan be excluded from future talks on the Korean nuclear crisis (see GSN, Oct. 7).

“We agree with the Japanese in rejecting the North Korean attempt to exclude Japanese participation in the multiparty talks,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. “Japan clearly must and will continue to be a participant in the six-party talks in order to achieve a diplomatic solution to North Korea’s nuclear programs,” he added (Agence France-Presse/Yahoo!News, Oct. 8).

Speaking at a summit in Indonesia, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun also supported Japanese involvement.

“The North Korean nuclear crisis is a grave issue that can affect all of Northeast Asia, and thus Japan’s participation is needed to seek a comprehensive resolution to the issue,” Roh said.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi also participated in the summit (Yonhap News Agency/BBC Monitoring, Oct. 8).

Analysts dismissed North Korea’s demand as a negotiating tactic and a attempt to send a message to Japan.

“It’s basically gamesmanship. They know they have to let Japan in and that will be the eventual outcome,” said Stuart Harris, a Northeast Asia expert from the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the Australian National University. “I think they are just a bit irritated with Japan for bringing up bilateral issues and this is their usual unsubtle way of telling Tokyo to back off,” he added.

Joseph Cheung, a political analyst at the City University in Hong Kong, said the move could be designed to put pressure on China after indications the United States might be willing to accept North Korean refugees from Beijing.

“One of the tactics they have consistently used is to create confusion. I think this demand is also meant to put pressure in China, the hosts, which has a lot riding on the success of these talks,” he said (Martin Parry, Agence France-Presse, Oct. 8).

October 8, 2003
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The United States yesterday rejected North Korea’s demand that Japan be excluded from future talks on the Korean nuclear crisis (see GSN, Oct. 7).