August, 2017

A New Containment Policy Strategy

Masahiro Akiyama
Chairman, SSDP
President, Akiyama Associates

My article titled "A New Containment Policy Strategy" was recently published in a bimonthly magazine GAIKO (Diplomacy),July/August 2017. In this article I discussed problem on the Korean peninsula based on the emergency proposal that was announced in May by the Society of Security and Diplomatic Policy Studies.

Following is an outline of the article:

1 We need to realize two inconvenient truths.

One inconvenient truth is that in the short term we have no effective measures available to solve the North Korean nuclear missile development problem if military enforcement measures are not taken (must not be taken). A second inconvenient truth is that even if North Korea succeeded in nuclear armament and long-range missile development, such efforts will not guarantee the survival of the current North Korean regime. This inconvenient truth should be acknowledged by Kim Jong-un.

We must be prepared to take a long time perspective of about ten to twenty years to solve the problem.

2 For the time being, pressures on North Korea should be maintained.

We should strengthen economic sanctions on North Korea and secure their complete implementation. Political and military pressures should be also applied.

Adopting these measures means elimination of an appeasement policy for the time being as the policy might lead North Korea to misunderstand the situation.

3 A new containment policy should be introduced.

Our policy goal is (should be) not to use military force against North Korea. Instead, we should introduce a new containment policy in order to frustrate North Korea's strong will to hold nuclear weapons over a long span of time.

If North Korea, regardless of pressures, intends to continue nuclear tests and missile launches, the decision must be taken to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea as a counter measure.

The US plans to strengthen its military capability and its operation against the North. South Korea is promoting the deployment of THAAD in its territory. Japan should reexamine its missile defense system (including a possibility of deploying THAAD in Japan) and seek a legal solution regarding attack operations on enemy bases.

These measures do not aim to defeat North Korea. Rather, they mean to have Kim Jong-un acknowledged a limit of the nuclear armament power he is seeking. If he recognizes the limits of its nuclear deterrent capabilities, North Korea will then explore the possibility of negotiations.

4 Japan's foreign policy on the North Korea problem is based on both pressure and dialogue. In this sense we should always seek to find a chance for dialogue with the North.

The North's obvious brinkmanship has carefully avoided military conflict, while urging the US to recognize the importance and inevitability of negotiations with North Korea. Without any dialogue or negotiation with the North, it would be impossible to even freeze the development of nuclear weapons and long-range missile. Japan, the US, and South Korea should uphold the joint statement of the fourth round of the six-party talks in September 2005, which agreed to the resumption of the six-party talks and to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

We should remember that this joint statement includes agreement on normalization of the US-North Korea and the Japan-North Korea relations.

5 Peaceful coexistence of the North and South followed by peaceful unification is an inevitable development for the solution.

As long as the Korean peninsula remains divided, and intense regime struggles, international isolation, and severe economic sanctions continue, the survival of the North Korean regime will never be guaranteed. Paradoxically, only when a long-lasting peaceful coexistence of two regimes is achieved, a peaceful unification of the two Koreas and the denuclearization of the North (the Korean Peninsula) might become a reality.

Looking back humbly on the past, we need to recognize that it was a big problem that neighboring nations were unable to realize detente on the Korean Peninsula after the end of the Cold War: the cross- recognition of the two Koreas by the four neighboring powers. This is one of the causes that brought about today's situation.

Now, Japan, one of the neighboring nations, should develop its diplomacy to help realize the return of North Korea to the international community and pave a road to a peaceful unification of the two Koreas.

6 Japan and South Korea should closely cooperate as they share strategic interests in this problem.

If the US resorts to military force against North Korea single-handedly or suddenly agrees to a US-North Korean summit talk, it will critically impact both Japan and South Korea. Thus Japan and South Korea certainly share strategic interests, consequently both countries must jointly prepare in peace time for possible warfare.

Only Japan can support South Korea's attempt to have dialogue with North Korea. This might make real the resumption of the Japan-North direct dialogue. In that case Japan should reconfirm the Japan-North Korea Pyongyang Declaration in 2002

Otherwise we cannot hope to find a solution to the abduction problem.

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