Japanese Prime Minister Discloses Cabinet’s Efforts to Hold Summit with North Korea

What is Happening

The Japanese Prime Minister (PM), Fumio Kishida, said that he wants to hold a summit with North Korea due to “signals” his government has received since the beginning of this year. Kishida said the potential summit will be based around negotiating the release of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea between 20 and 30 years ago.

During an appearance before the Diet, the Japanese Parliament, last week, Kishida said it was crucial for him to reach out to increase “top-level ties” with North Korea. He also mentioned that the country should not waste any more time increasing these ties.

Kishida’s government began efforts to reach out to North Korea after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent a condolence letter after the Noto earthquake last month. The government is using various backchannels, including China, to discuss the possibility of holding the summit and has said that they will give no concessions. However, various officials following the backdoor discussions said that the major issue is that Kim does not want to discuss the abductee issue.

Analysis: 

The backchannel talks would likely not lead to Japan or North Korea holding the summit because the country realistically does not want to. The country does not want to discuss the abductee issue because they have likely passed away due to either old age or various diseases caused by malnutrition. However, the country views the talks as a way to drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States and to prevent the three countries from increasing trilateral relations. Kim likely views this objective as extremely important since the three countries created a system where they could share information about North Korea’s ballistic missiles in real time.

Moreover, any increase in defense relations between Japan and South Korea would mean better relations in both the economic and diplomatic areas. For example, while the United States has no objections to Japan engaging with North Korea, they did say that the country should first solve any issues with South Korea. South Korea would also want to be kept informed of the talks and would likely want to discuss any issues that may arise involving North Korea. Japan would also need to make some effort to discuss the issues the country has with South Korea to prevent relations between the two countries from backtracking.

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Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin the panda began Sino Talk in 2022 primarily to give an objective, unbiased view on China related topics as well as other issues related to the Indo-Pacific region. He spent several years studying and traveling throughout China and many countries in the Indo-Pacific region. In another life, the panda was also a U.S. Marine intelligence analyst who enjoyed bamboo MREs and drinking bourbon and soju. Indo-Pacific Division Desk Chief for Atlas News.
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