December 23, 2004


KOIZUMI'S PYONGYANG CONUNDRUM: Public wants sanctions -- but at what price? (By KANAKO TAKAHARA, 12/24/04, Japan Times)

A large section of the public responded with predictable fury to recent revelations that a set of remains handed by North Korea to Japanese officials were not, as Pyongyang had claimed, those of abductee Megumi Yokota.

While roughly three out of four respondents to recent opinion polls feel that Japan should slap economic sanctions on Pyongyang, government officials and academics remain unconvinced by the merits of this course of action.

On Friday, the government is expected to disclose various documents, including Yokota's medical records, that Japanese officials analyzed after they were brought over from Pyongyang last month. It will also formally convey to North Korea the results of DNA tests carried out on the remains purported to be those of Yokota.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is stuck between a rock and a hard place: While public pressure is mounting for the government to adopt a stronger posture, the imposition of sanctions could hurt Japan.

Act like a real nation--regime change.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 23, 2004 9:47 PM

The reality faced by Japan in addition to the obvious nuclear threat is the presence of several hundred thousand guest workers from North Korea, and a significant underworld presence of North Koreans. Both groups are connected with the intelligence services of the DPRK.

Rounding them up and shipping them home would disrupt much of the Japanese economy, just as rounding up illegals in the States would. It might even be worse for Japan because South Korea would also react angrily towards such a move. But a more confrontational position against the DPRK would lead to a significant 5th column problem.

Posted by: Bart at December 23, 2004 10:37 PM

I suspect there's more to this story than meets the eye. I blogged it once at my own site, but the essence is this:

1. NK is China's mess; moreover, they won't let anyone else clean it up properly anyway.

2. Right after Bush was reelected (and Powell softened the US public posn on Taiwan), pics of KJI began to be taken down w/in NK itself, almost as if someone had been waiting to see if their deal with Bush would still be in effect.

My conclusion was that the US and China agreed to get rid of KJI. The alternative is a nuclear Japan, something China will not tolerate, so it didn't seem too big a stretch, really.

Which - and I am admittedly building supposition on supposition here, but it's still the most probable explanation I can see - means that Koizumi will be aware of any deals and probably doesn't want to rock the boat now, esp since NK has threatened war over the matter. Why pick a fight with NK if the Chinese are gonna take care of the prob for you?

Best guess: a sudden "accident" befalls the Dear Leader. His replacement says nothing but nice things about him, even as he systematically changes policy, ultimately destroying NK's nuke technology in return for Chinese guarantees of security.

China: gets to play the hero and gets rid of a nutcase/threat/pain.

US: Eliminates a potential source of nukes to terrorists.

Japan: gets rids of a nuke threat to their nation.

NK: their new leader gets to be local top dog.

The only loser in all this is KJI himself. So what? Thus concludes my speculation.

Posted by: ras at December 24, 2004 12:09 AM