North Korea and Japan are negotiating in preparation of upcoming talks, which were expected to focus primarily upon peninsula denuclearization, financial activity, and providing information about the many Japanese people kidnapped by the North Korean government through the 1970s and 1980s.
That was before President Trump stepped into the picture.
Trump has been focused primarily upon China and South Korea, and secondarily upon Russia, in his attempts to put localized pressure on North Korea. These efforts have been ineffective.
South Korea’s leader, Moon Jae-In, is looking hopefully toward an eventual reunification of the two countries and has been attempting to present a positive image toward Kim Jong Un. Russia has been exploiting the situation for their own benefit. China has been doing the same, using their influence with North Korea as a bargaining chip in the trade war President Trump triggered.
All of this leaves out Japan, however. Japan’s leader, Shinzo Abe, was among the earliest and most prominent international leaders to voice full support of President Trump. Having done so, Trump has relegated him to a junior position in the North Korea talks and a secondary consideration regarding China’s expansion efforts.
Abe has managed to climb out of his political hole and rise in the polls despite scandals and without any aid from Trump. Now, however, Abe and Japan face a new fear: irrelevancy. Increasingly, they are being informed of actions the US is taking in matters which concern them, such as North Korea denuclearization and China’s expansion into disputed boundaries.
The results of those concerns were shown Thursday, when North Korea made new demands about the talks.
North Korea on Thursday poured out criticism on Japan for its past wrongdoings, saying improvements in the bilateral relationship won’t be possible without Tokyo’s apology and compensation for its invasion of the Korean Peninsula.
Referring to Japan’s occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45, the statement said, “The Japanese reactionaries have now gone more and more impudent, far from apologizing and reflecting on their hideous past crimes.”Yonhap
It is uncertain what Abe’s response will be, but there are concerns that he may issue such a statement and offer financial compensation in an effort to re-establish relevance in the world political arena.
The one thing that can be established by North Korea’s statement, however, is that they feel emboldened by recent events both before and especially after the Kim-Trump Summit. What was, a few months ago, an effort to avoid talking about state-sponsored kidnapping and slavery has shifted into demands for apologies and money.