Several Perspectives on the Korean Peninsula Issue
--- The Deteriorating Japan-South Korea Relationship and the Uncertain Denuclearization of North Korea ---

Masahiro Akiyama
Chairman, SSDP

I. The worsening Japan-South Korea Relationship

1. The Forced Labor Issue as a Trigger

The current status of the Japan-South Korea relationship may be the worst since the end of WWII. The forced labor issue between the two countries accounts more than anything else for the worsening of the bilateral relationship. The Supreme Court of Korea ruled in favor of the Korean victims who brought lawsuits against Japanese corporations for compensation for wartime forced labor. The Japanese government asserted that the issue of claim rights had been resolved by the Japan-Korea Agreement on Claim Rights, strongly criticizing the South Korean government for its onlooker attitude.

In July this year, the Japanese government tightened its export controls to South Korea of three items of semiconductor materials produced in Japan, on which South Korean IT industry depends heavily. In early August, Japan decided to remove South Korea from a "whitelist" of countries with preferential trade status. The Japanese government regards South Korea as untrustworthy in terms of security. Thus, the bilateral relationship has entered a new stalemate.

Regarding the forced labor issue, the Japanese government's position is that thanks to the Japan-Korea Agreement on Claim Rights, concluded in 1965 on the occasion of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries (Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea), the issue of claim rights between the two countries and its people was "solved completely and finally," and that the ruling of the Supreme Court of Korea is an outrageous act. The Japanese government has so far consistently expressed its dissatisfaction with the inaction of the incumbent South Korean government.

At the time of the conclusion of the Japan-Korea Agreement on Claim Rights, South Korea admitted that claim rights relinquished by the Agreement should include individual claim rights. However, the incumbent South Korean government argues that the Agreement is concerned with the state-to-state relationship, while individual claim rights remain intact. Moreover, the South Korean government declared the recent forced labor trials to be civil lawsuits, abiding by its non-intervention policy. To state the ironic truth, the idea that individual claim rights are out of the scope of any interstate claim rights agreement was advocated by Japan in relation to a similar agreement between Japan and China, and afterwards South Korea picked up the idea. To be precise, Japan's views are that although individual rights remain intact, individuals, however, are not qualified to appeal to the court. There is, however, a case in which a Japanese court received a lawsuit from a Chinese victim in Japan. The victim lost the case, but a settlement was reached through the court's initiative, and settlement money was paid to the victim by the defendant Japanese corporation. This case may be referred to in connection with individual claim rights lawsuits in South Korea.

2. Historical Issues as Background

What lies in the background of the South Korean government's inaction? The comfort women issue has for long cast a large shadow over the Japan-South Korea relationship. Furthermore, the territorial dispute over the Takeshima Island has, in recent years, become intractable. The South Korean government still continues political, economic prosecution of pro-Japanese collaborators who worked for Japan during the period of the Japanese annexation of Korea. These are combined to help South Koreans harbor harsh feelings toward Japan. (This does not mean that anti-Japanese sentiment is widely prevalent in South Korean society.)

This fact indicates that a difficult historical relationship has survived to date between Japan and the Asian continent. The historical friction between Japan and its neighbors involves identity issues in which the parties concerned cannot make mutual concessions. Since Japan annexed and ruled South Korea instead of colonizing her, the subjugated Korean people harbored animosity toward Japan. World history is not abundant with cases of annexation. Japan emphasizes the legality of its rule of Korea and its contribution to the modernization of Korea through its annexation. Meanwhile, South Korea seeks to idealize its past, abandoning the search for historical facts, and never admits the disgrace of subjugation under the Japanese rule.

While South Korea still regards the conclusion of the 1910 Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty as "unfair and illegal," Japan maintains it was "unfair but valid." A complete agreement on the historical understanding of the Treaty will be quite difficult between the two countries. At the time of the conclusion of the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea in 1965, the wise judgment of both sides' negotiators was shown in arriving at a compromise in describing the Annexation Treaty as "already null and void." The current South Korean progressive administration insists that at the time of the normalization in 1965, the end of the unfortunate past between the two countries was not achieved, and that it is necessary to rectify this failure even today. This is equivalent to saying that the South Korean government acknowledges neither the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations nor the Agreement on Claim Rights.

3. Historical Roots of the ROK

The Korean progressive power that emerged in the process of South Korea's democratization is attacking the "pro-Japanese" conservatives, advocating a controversy over historical issues. The progressives represented by the Moon administration are, as indicated by Professor Junya Nishino, not "anti-Japanese" in terms of their motives. They aim at attacking the conservatives or the former authoritarian political forces that had political ties with Japan. As a result, the actions of the progressives appear to be "anti-Japanese."

The progressives seem to view the March 11 independence movement in 1919 and the establishment of the provisional government of the Republic of Korea as the origin and starting point of the present ROK. Regretting the ethnic division since 1945, they wish to trace the roots of the ROK to the establishment of a united-front for independence which organized an independence movement in 1919, rallying the left wing and the right wing, and founded the provisional government of the Republic of Korea. They seem to envisage north-south reconciliation, north-south unification, and the unity of Koreans. The progressives base themselves not on anti-Japanese power but on strong nationalism with ethnic unification in mind.

4. Future Prospects for Japan-South Korea Relations

How will Japan-South Korea relations evolve in the future?

(1) The Forced Labor Issue and Japan's Tightened Export Controls against South Korea

Professor Masao Okonogi made the following prediction (May 8, 2019):

"The following three scenarios may be considered:

1) Leave-it-alone option: If the Korean side liquidated the Japanese steelmaker's assets, in consequence of the exchange of countermeasures, the Japan-South Korea relationship would revert to the state preceding the 1965 Agreement on the Settlement of Problems Concerning Property and Claims, resulting in the collapse of the agreement. It is hard to predict what countermeasures will be taken. What is certain is that we would face the worst situation since the normalization of bilateral diplomatic relations.

2) Arbitration: When the dispute becomes more clarified, diplomatic negotiations should be started based on the 1965 Agreement on the Settlement of Problems Concerning Property and Claims. If this ends in failure, arbitration will be the next option. If all of these options are unsuccessful, Japan will be obliged to file a suit at the ICJ. This scenario aims at solving the problem by judicial procedures. A decision may be entrusted to a binding third party arbitration.

3) Reconciliation: The Korean government and corporations will establish a new foundation and realize a legal settlement with the voluntary participation by Japanese corporations."

Professor Okonogi added, "It will be difficult to single out one and only one scenario. Things may go round and round for the time being. One option may be a synthesis of scenarios 2) and 3): when both sides give preference to scenario 2), some arbitrator may step in to propose to them the scenario 3)."

The current situation corresponds, indeed, to scenario 1) --- de facto sanctions by Japan; South Korea's filing a lawsuit to the WTO against the Japanese sanctions, and a boycott of Japanese products in South Korea. Should this escalate, the bilateral relationship will potentially revert to the state before 1965.

Japan's tightened export controls against South Korea since early July this year is likely to have given rise to a new conflict different from the forced labor issue. Accusing South Korea of having an unreliable export control system, the Japanese government has introduced tighter controls on South Korea-bound exports of three items of semiconductor materials and decided to remove South Korea from a "whitelist" of countries with preferential trade status. South Korea counter-introduced the same measure and denunciated GSOMIA (General Security of Information Agreement between Japan and South Korea). Japan has now to tackle this new security problem.

Both Japan and South Korea should, however, calm down and consider how to address together these two problems. First of all, Japan needs to objectively assess South Korea's outlook on history and the ethnic nationalism of the Moon administration, whose political motive is not anti-Japanism. Then, Japan should address specific problems. As for the forced labor issue, Japan should not unilaterally declare that the South Korean government's inaction regarding the issue is a violation of international law --- nobody is sure if Japan can win the case at the International Court of Justice. Rather, Japan should continue its patient explanation and call for the solution of the issue by the South Korean government.

On the other hand, unless South Korea negates the 1965 Agreement on Claim Rights, the South Korean government should indicate a solution, because it is the South Korean judiciary's intervention in the difficult history issue --- the forced labor issue --- that has invited the current confusion. Now that it is obvious that the ongoing dispute between the two countries is a matter to be addressed in conformity with the relevant provisions of the 1965 Agreement, should South Korea have at least accepted the Japanese request for consultation through diplomatic channels? The South Korean government would have been able to explain that since they regard forced labor litigation as a civil lawsuit it will not make any intervention.

As for Japan's tightened export controls against South Korea, South Korea has no alternative but to improve the reliability of its own export control system. South Korea should restrain itself from associating the problem with its rivalry with Japan.

Under the current situation, the Japanese government should avoid strengthening the de facto sanctions, and should endeavor to not allow the problem to have a serious impact on the industries operating in both countries. Meanwhile, the South Korean government should initiate some form of discussion with the Japanese side on the forced labor issue to seek a solution through dialogue or diplomacy, thereby making efforts to at least stop the further deterioration of the situation.

At present, both countries are escalating confrontation and damages are expanding. What is imperative for them is to control damages, without increasing them.

(2) Other Issues

The Japan-South Korea relationship is fraught with difficult challenges, besides the forced labor issue, including other historical issues and the North Korea issue.

It is unimaginable that both countries' outlook on history would coincide completely. It is a question that time alone will solve. When it comes to the comfort women issue, it was decided under the Moon administration to disband the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation in defiance of the governmental agreement between the two countries. On the other hand, the South Korean government declares that from now on it will not discuss the issue with the Japanese government. Now that as many as 70-80 percent of former comfort women in South Korea have already received money from the disbanded foundation, this issue will not be further exacerbated, unless some particular action is taken by the South Korean side.

The issue of Takeshima Island is a territorial issue. Since the island is now under the de facto control of South Korea --- different from effective control as determined by international law ---, it is difficult for Japan to work with South Korea to reach some solution. Japan should spend more time finding a solution, but hold fast to its own claim and respond with patient self-control so as not to lead to a deterioration in the Japan-South Korea relationship.

The denuclearization of North Korea is the crux of the North Korea issue. But for Japan, the solution of the abductees issue is similarly of critical importance. To address either of these questions, cooperation with the South Korean government is essential to Japan. It is now up to the leaders of the United States and North Korea to implement the denuclearization. We should remember, however, that President Moon Jae-in has also played a conspicuous role to date in this connection. Japan relies greatly on President Trump, but his policy outlook is extremely unstable. Japan should review its relationship with the Moon administration, whose policy scope encompasses the unification of North and South Korea, and seek the possibility of bilateral cooperation over the North Korea issue.

If cooperation between Japan and South Korea progresses, and the prospect for denuclearization becomes apparent, North-South reconciliation will advance with the involvement of Japan. Then, the negotiations for the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and North Korea will become a reality. The Japanese abductees issue will also be addressed in the normalization process.

Concurrently, Japan should consider the mutual establishment of a liaison office with the prospect of direct negotiations between Japan and North Korea, as a base for dialogue for the promotion of mutual understanding. The Japan-South Korea relationship affected by the North Korea issue will be discussed in the next chapter on the denuclearization of North Korea.

II. The Uncertain Denuclearization of North Korea

1. The Direct Negotiations between the United States and North Korea

In June 2018, the first-ever US-North Korea summit was held, and the leaders of the two countries agreed on a complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and on the guarantee of the North Korean regime. However, no concrete measures were taken to implement the denuclearization of North Korea nor to ensure the North Korean regime guarantee. The Second US-North Korea summit held in February 2019 ended in failure without any result. A close analysis of this failure has demonstrated that there was a wide discrepancy between the United States and North Korea over proposals and responses made respectively by each of them. Kim Jong-un attended the second meeting, assuming that the United States would ease sanctions against North Korea, if he presented some steps toward denuclearization. Contrary to his assumption, Kim failed to extract any positive response from President Trump and suffered a serious failure

It is believed now that the demands of the United States and North Korea were as follows. North Korea demanded the lifting of a substantial part of UN sanctions --- five out of 11 sanctions adopted in 2016 and 2017 under United Nations Security Council resolutions ---, in exchange for which North Korea would "permanently and completely dismantle all the nuclear facilities in the Nyongbyon area in the presence of US experts and a joint work of technicians from both countries." North Korea was prepared to declare in writing its commitment to a permanent halt of nuclear testing and long-range rocket launch tests. "Even though the security guarantee is more important to us (North Korea), …we understood that it could be more difficult for the United States to take measures in the military field. That is why we proposed the removal of partial sanctions, as corresponding measures." "It is imperative that this first step process is inevitable for the journey to complete denuclearization, and we (North Korea) must go through the process of realizing our best practice." (North Korea meant by this a step-by-step approach.)

The United States argued as follows: Toward the objective of complete denuclearization, the permanent dismantlement of nuclear facilities in the Nyongbyon area as proposed by North Korea is not sufficient and it is necessary to include additional nuclear facilities specified by the United States. The United States required North Korea's comprehensive disarmament and delivered a list of requirements to North Korea --- the complete dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear infrastructure; chemical and biological warfare programs, along with related military and civilian dual-use capabilities; ballistic missiles; launchers and related facilities. In the meantime, the United States announced that it would be ready to provide assistance to help North Korea to become an economic power, if the North opted for complete denuclearization.

The failure of the second US-North Korea summit cast a dark cloud over direct negotiations between the United States and North Korea. Professor Junya Nishino analyzed the result as follows. As outlined in Kim Jong-un's policy speech at the 14th Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK in April, North Korea desires the continuance of the bilateral dialogue. In the speech, Kim stated, "…both sides should give up their unilateral terms; …it is needed above all for the United States to approach us with a new way of calculation after putting aside the current one; If the United States proposed holding the third round of summit talks…, we would be willing to try one more time; …we will be patient and wait till the end of this year to see whether the United States makes a courageous decision or not…"

Contradictorily, however, Kim also said, "…there is no need for me to obsess over the summit talks with the United States out of thirst for the lifting of sanctions; …I will no longer set my heart on such a trivial issue as lifting sanctions by the hostile forces…" Kim called on North Korean citizens for preparedness and preparations against prolonged economic sanctions, while also insinuating the possibility of another approach. Regarding the prolongation of economic sanctions, Kim admitted that "the confrontation between our country and the United States is bound to be drawn out and the hostile forces' sanctions will persist", and emphasized the importance of self-reliance, stating "we must frustrate the hostile forces' sanctions on the strength of self-sufficiency and self-reliance." As for the possibility of another approach, Kim Jong-un may consider a declaration of the end of the Korean War or the conclusion of a peace treaty with South Korea.

North Korea is promoting diplomatic relations with countries other than the United States to secure "hedging" against the prolongation of the current stalemate in negotiations. The important countries for North Korea in this context are primarily China, then Russia, followed by South Korea and Japan. As a result, a shift in the North's diplomatic policy to multilateral talks cannot be overruled. In that case, the resumption of the six-party talks might be possible.

The repetition of test-launches of short/middle range missiles would serve North Korea as another means of hedging. To send a signal to the United States, North Korea could escalate such provocations.

President Trump visited South Korea in June this year, and crossed, for the first time by a sitting US president, the military border at Panmunjom. He shook hands with Kim Jong-un, and then held a summit meeting inside a South Korean facility. President Trump tried to show off to the world his good relationship with Kim.

According to Professor Narushige Michishita, among possible future scenarios involving North Korea are:

1) North Korea may temporarily accept the implementation of the "listed requirements."

2) North Korea may compromise on the ICBM issue.

3) North Korea may lower its demands for sanctions relief and claim regime guarantee.

US responses, he points out, will be the key for any case. And how then should Japan respond in such a transformation of the US-North Korea relationship?

2. SSDP Proposals on Japan's North Korea Diplomacy

A brief review of SSDP Proposals on Japan's North Korea Diplomacy released in September 2018 may help consider Japan's responses to the North Korea issue.

The Denuclearization of North Korea and the Restoration of Peace in the Korean Peninsula --- Correct Perceptions and Eight Proposals on Japan's North Korea Diplomacy ---

September 2018, SSDP

Japan's Response 1 – Engage in North Korean security guarantees to solve the denuclearization issue by diplomacy

It is difficult to realize the denuclearization of North Korea by means of sanctions and pressure alone; it cannot be realized unless combined with North Korea's security guarantees. Japan should actively engage in North Korea's security guarantees depending on its behavior, and seek the solution of the problem through diplomacy. We will have to collaborate not only with the United States but also with South Korea, China, Russia, etc., and pursue diplomatic efforts, and foresee a direct dialogue with North Korea.

This proposal was predicated on the preamble of the June 2018 US-North Korea summit joint statement: "President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." The proposal assumed that "security guarantees" and "complete denuclearization" would be traded through diplomatic negotiations.

Japan's Response 2 - Address the changing security environment of the Korean Peninsula and transition to a peace regime

If the state of armistice from the Korean War comes to an end and a peace treaty is concluded to replace the present Armistice Agreement, the current order in the Korean Peninsula that has lasted for 65 years will shift to a new one. Although this is basically a desirable move, we will face yet another question of addressing the state of instability and uncertainty accompanying an orderly transition period.

Reality fails to live up to predictions. Yet, since President Trump is looking forward to reducing the USFK, the changing security environment of the Korean Peninsula would become an important question for Northeast Asian and Japanese security.

Japan's Response 3 - Strengthen the Japan-US alliance and the US extended deterrence

The most fundamental point in this context is to strengthen the Japan-US alliance. Then the following three points should be taken into consideration.

First, policy coordination between the United States and Japan is a must. In other words, some input from Japan will be essential to help the United States to formulate a proper North Korea policy. Some concrete measures should be taken to dissuade the United States under the spell of the America-firstism from jeopardizing the alliances and from destabilizing the world.

Secondly, the improvement in the credibility of the US extended deterrence is required more than ever. The Japanese government should help improve the credibility of the US extended deterrence through measures intelligible to the public.

Thirdly, enhance the deterrence of the Japan-US alliance through strengthening the Japan-US joint defense posture by increasing the role of Japan.

These efforts will eventually support diplomatic solutions.

The above proposal emphasized the importance of strengthening the Japan-US alliance to address a huge security transformation in Northeast Asia, particularly the Korean Peninsula, and to secure Japan's security. Although the relationship between Prime Minister Abe and President Trump is solid and amicable, attention must be paid to President Trump's slighting of the allies. Motivated by his America-first philosophy, President Trump could cut secret deals on, among other issues, missiles development and the abductees issue that are unfavorable to Japan. If Japan were kept uninformed of the contents of such deals, she might be placed in a disadvantaged position. In this sense, efforts to constantly strengthen the Japan-US alliance are indispensable.

Japan's response 4 – Moratorium of military options

Japan is in a position to dissuade the United States from exercising military power as a last resort. We should recognize the limitations of a policy based on pressure alone, as well as the likelihood that pressure-based diplomacy would function instead. The present developments can be viewed as such.

In March 2019, several senior officials of the Trump administration reportedly stated, "the United States will not return the favor to North Korea in every step of denuclearization;" "the United States will not lift any economic sanctions until North Korea has been completely denuclearized;" and "nobody in the administration is in favor of a phased approach." These statements are clearly different from President Trump's idea. It seems that US hardliners against North Korea are attempting to prevent diplomatic solutions through summit talks preferred by President Trump.

The ongoing pressure-oriented diplomacy adopted by the Trump administration does not exclude the possibility that the parties concerned will ultimately resort to military power. If military options are taken, another possibility that cannot be ruled out is that Japan (not only US military bases in Japan but also Japan itself) will become the target of North Korean attacks, given Japan's harsh stance in the past against North Korea. Japan must dissuade the United States from exercising its military power.

Japan's response 5 - Establishment of Japan-South Korea cooperative relations

South Korean President Moon Jae-in stated that he had pursued his efforts so that Japan and South Korea can overcome their historical issues in a sensible manner; meanwhile, he has consistently adopted a position to promote a future-oriented cooperation, not tied to their historical issues. Amidst the current movements surrounding the North Korean problem, Japan and South Korea should make their utmost efforts to solve their long-standing historical issues. Their coordinated efforts will lead to strengthening the Japan-US and the South Korea-US alliances as well as the US presence and its engagement in this region --- all of which will greatly help the solution of the North Korean problem.

To solve the North Korean problem including the abductees issue, Japan must strengthen its relationship and establish a framework of cooperation with South Korea, a country that is extremely important in the light of the historical relations between Japan and the Asian continent. But the reality is that the South Korean judiciary's intervention in the forced labor issue has exacerbated the bilateral relationship to it worst possible state since the end of WWII. Both Japan and South Korea must endeavor to restore their cooperative relationship to address critical challenges, putting aside history issues. In fact, President Moon Jae-in mentioned it.

If the Japan-South Korea relationship remains deadlocked as it is now, while the United States and North Korea move toward some solution through summit talks, how should Japan then address the abductees issue and safeguard its security? Given the possibility that the United States keeps Japan and South Korea in the dark regarding the North Korean problem, bilateral cooperation between Japan and South Korea must be urgent and essential to both countries.

Japan's Response 6 – Take actions taking into account future developments including the progress of the US-North Korea talks

It is of paramount importance for Japan not to miss the timing for a solution of the abduction issue. For Japan, the regional security balance is also another point of consideration. Japan should take into account the possibility that the US-North Korea talks will make accelerated progress, and should work out effective responses to move on to action accordingly.

Given the singularity of the Trump administration, there may emerge a possible scenario of new military tensions resulting from the suspension of negotiations. Taking broadly into account future developments, Japan should formulate effective responses to address a wide array of possible scenarios.

Japan's response 7 – Explore cooperation with China

Japan's Response 8 – Resumption of the Six-Party Talks in tandem with human rights diplomacy

3. Japan's Responses to the North Korea Issue

Taking into account the ongoing progress in the US-North Korea negotiations, as well as the above SSDP proposals, let us offer our perspectives on possible responses taken by Japan.

(1) Japan's Involvement in Security Guarantees for North Korea

It is important for Japan to understand that the US-North Korea direct negotiations are a plan for the two parties concerned to trade "security guarantees" for "complete denuclearization" through diplomatic talks, and to support this plan. The debacle of the second US-North Korea summit is ascribed largely to the US failure to make any proposal to provide North Korea with security guarantees, coupled with North Korea's lack of foresight. As long as President Trump wants to realize the deal, Japan should show its readiness to help provide security guarantees for North Korea --- the first step to take would be a declaration of the end of the Korean War. Japan could be involved in the economic aspects of guarantees for security through the relief of economic sanctions. It would be wise for Japan to express all-out support for President Trump's negotiating policy. The close friendship between Prime Minister Abe and President Trump may help it. Needless to say, such a proactive decision on the Japanese side would presuppose some reasonable proposal from North Korea on denuclearization.

If Japan continues behaving in taking the lead in sanctions or doing nothing but increasing pressure on North Korea, such behavior will only make North Korea more hostile to Japan and will be by no means beneficial to Japan's security. Instead of taking sides with US hardliners, it might be better for Japan to offer all-out support to President Trump as far as the North Korea issue is concerned.

(2) The Japan-South Korea Cooperation

The current South Korean government is a progressive administration. As described in "I. The Worsening of the Japan-South Korea Relationship," the Moon administration aims at achieving North-South reconciliation based on ethnic nationalism. In order to build a cooperative relationship with South Korea, Japan should understand the political stance of the Moon administration, thereby attempting to remove the Moon administration's distrust of Japan. Notwithstanding his great contribution toward direct talks between the United States and North Korea, President Moon is currently exposed to severe criticism from both countries, particularly North Korea. It is undeniable that Japan and South Korea might be kept uninformed of the progress of the US-North Korea direct negotiations. To avoid the case, Japan and South Korea share a strategic interest.

Furthermore, Japan must seek a direct dialogue with North Korea because it has to solve the abductees issue. As there is little likelihood that summit talks between Japan and North Korea will immediately take place, it might be recommended for both countries to first establish liaison offices as a base for resuming dialogue and for understanding the situation surrounding the two countries. Without a window of dialogue, it would be quite difficult to resume a dialogue. Japan and Korea cooperation might help the establishment.

(3) The Resumption of Six-Party Talks

In the light of the peculiarities of the Trump administration, Japan should think of responses to the possibility that the US-North Korea direct negotiations might suddenly collapse and military tensions could increase again. Japan should dissuade the United States from resorting to military force in a critical situation.

North Korea is trying to approach China and Russia for hedging purposes. Japan could be approached by the North for a similar purpose. Japan should consider cooperation with China and Russia as hedging against the worsening of the situation. The resumption of the six-party talks may be a probable possibility. Japan should make efforts to take the initiative to resume the six-party talks through cooperation with China.

(4) The Strengthening the Japan-US Alliance

If toward the objective of peace-making on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea takes a decisive step toward denuclearization, while the United States develops security guarantees for North Korea, the current order in the Korean Peninsula that has lasted for 65 years will shift to a new one. How to manage the instability and uncertainty associated with this transitional phase will constitute a grave challenge to Northeast Asian and Japanese security.

Given that Trump has shown interest in shrinking US forces in Korea, Japan must provide input to the United States so that the North Korea policy of the United States can be properly formulated. In addition, with the expectation that denuclearization of North Korea will take a long time, it is necessary more than ever to improve the reliability of US extended deterrence. Japan must also help improve the reliability of US extended deterrence in a manner as intelligible as possible to the Japanese people. It is likewise important to improve the deterrence of the Japan-US alliance as a whole through strengthening the Japan-US joint defense posture by increasing Japan's role. Such efforts will eventually support the ongoing diplomacy.


Taking the liberty of some editing and incorporating his personal views, the present author has written this paper based on the following essays posted on the SSDP website. Specific references to the original essays have been omitted.

  1. May 2019: "Current Status and Prospects of South Korea and Japan's Frictions over History: How to address the Judicial Problems", Masao Okonogi, Professor Emeritus, Keio University
  2. May 2019: "South Korea and Japan's Frictions over History" (Comments), Junya Nishino, Professor, Keio University
  3. July 2019: "An Outlook on the Denuclearization of North Korea --- What is the Stance of North Korea? --- ", Junya Nishino, Professor, Keio University
  4. July 2019: "An Outlook on the Denuclearization of North Korea --- How will the US move?", Narushige Michishita, Vice President, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies
  5. September 2018: (Proposal) "The Denuclearization of North Korea and the Restoration of Peace in the Korean Peninsula --- Correct Perceptions and Eight Proposals on Japan's North Korea Diplomacy --- ", edited by the SSDP
  6. May 2017: (Emergency Proposal) "Facing the Inconvenient Truth: Re-examining Policy for Peace and Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" (Chief author, Masao Okonogi)

Refer to (Final access on August 8, 2019.)

(This paper was translated into English by Tsutomu Inuzuka, SSDP Associate)

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