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For bilateral talks, North Korea must halt military provocations
Publication Date : 02-04-2014
If North Korea continues its foolish military provocations, it will gain nothing at all. Making Pyongyang understand this point is the first priority.
Director general level officials at the foreign ministries of Japan and North Korea have held official talks in Beijing. During their two-day meetings, which lasted for eight and a half hours, they discussed topics including North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals years ago, and Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development programmes. The North Korean officials reportedly demanded Japan’s “settlement of its past”. a reference to compensation for its colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
Although yawning gaps remain between both sides’ positions on some issues, it is somewhat significant that they have agreed to continue high-level talks.
On the abduction issue, the Japanese side demanded North Korea reinvestigate the whereabouts of several Japanese people the government has officially identified as having been abducted by North Korean agents, and look into the cases of “missing Japanese probably related to North Korea,” people for whom the possibility of abduction by North Korea cannot be ruled out. We hope the Japanese side negotiates tirelessly and creates some developments in these cases.
The UN Human Rights Council has already adopted a resolution that denounced Pyongyang’s policies, including “the enforced disappearance of persons” and torture at political prison camps, as “crimes against humanity.” It called for the officials responsible for these crimes to be held accountable under law.
How can the net that is gradually tightening around North Korea be used to resolve the abduction problem? Japan must adopt a diplomatic approach that involves the international community.
Worries about a building
During the latest talks, North Korea expressed awareness and deep concern over a recent Japanese court ruling that authorised the sale of the headquarters site and building of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon). Should this property in Tokyo be sold and the association evicted from it, North Korea would be stripped of a vital activity base in this country.
However, the bottom line is that the properties were put up for auction because Chongryon had failed to return billions of yen in loans from credit associations affiliated with pro-Pyongyang residents in Japan. It is outrageous and misdirected for North Korea to express concern over the court ruling.
Meanwhile, North Korea’s recent firing of medium-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan was also on the meeting agenda. The Japanese side quite rightly protested the launches as violations of the 2002 bilateral Pyongyang Declaration and UN Security Council resolutions, and demanded that North Korea refrain from further launches.
The UNSC condemned the missile launches in a statement by the council’s president. It is disconcerting that North Korea has blatantly ignored the statement.
North Korea has tried to justify the ballistic missile launches as self-defense drills. In a statement, North Korea said that it “would not rule out a new form of nuclear test for bolstering up its nuclear deterrence”, which can be taken as a threat.
On Monday, North Korean forces conducted live-fire exercises near the Northern Limit Line, a disputed maritime border in the Yellow Sea. About 100 shells landed in South Korea’s territorial waters. The South returned fire into the sea across the border. The exchange has heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The Kim Jong Un regime should halt its dangerous provocations immediately.
North Korea must wake up to the fact that cooperation with the international community is the only way to save the impoverished nation.