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Japan should hold talks with North Korea to ease tensions, expert says

This picture taken on November 18, 2022 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on November 19, 2022 shows North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) inspecting a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) "Hwasong Gun 17", before the launch at Pyongyang International Airport. - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he would respond to US threats with nuclear weapons, state media said on November 19, after Kim personally oversaw Pyongyang's latest launch of intercontinental ballistic missile. (Photo by KCNA VIA KNS / AFP) / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS / THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE --- /

Japan should hold negotiations with North Korea as part of its efforts to ease tensions in the region, an expert has said.

“It’s important to provide North Korea, by continuing negotiations, with ‘a sense of reassurance’” that Japan will not be a threat to the reclusive country, Tadashi Kimiya, a professor at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of the University of Tokyo, said in a recent interview.

Kimiya, a specialist on Korean Peninsula issues, said the possible resumption of talks between Japan and North Korea over normalizing their diplomatic relations should be used as a catalyst to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table.

The Japanese government has said that it is ready to have a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at any time, but this implies that Tokyo wants to talk about the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals decades ago, Kimiya said.

“North Korea’s position is that the issue has been resolved, so we can’t expect the country to accept the offer,” Kimiya said, adding that for Pyongyang, the issue of its nuclear and missile development is something that should be discussed with the United States.

The resumption of negotiations on diplomatic normalization is the only possibility, and Japan should use it as a trigger to get involved, the professor said.

Recently, North Korea has been firing missiles at an unprecedented pace. A ballistic missile launched in early October fell into the Pacific after flying over Japan. Pyongyang may also be preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test.

“The security threat to Japan and South Korea is growing,” Kimiya said.

In the event of a contingency on the Korean Peninsula, U.S. military bases in Japan and South Korea would be used to attack North Korea, and Pyongyang would likely find it easier to use tactical nuclear weapons than using strategic nuclear weapons aimed at the United States, he said.

“Japan and South Korea have strengthened their deterrence and should continue to do so going forward. The question, however, is how much Japan can use its financial resources,” Kimiya said, when asked whether Japan should strengthen its deterrence.

“Even if deterrence is strengthened, it’s unlikely that North Korea will cease its provocations, and Japan would find itself in a ‘security dilemma.’ The challenge is how to reduce and manage the military threat,” Kimiya said.

Narushige Michishita, professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, said in a separate interview, “Japan has an extremely important role (in dealing with North Korea)” because one of the core objectives of the Japan-U.S. alliance is defending South Korea.

Japan’s law for dealing with a periphery emergency, enacted in 1999, allows the nation’s Self-Defense Forces to support the U.S. military when it fights for the defense of South Korea in the event of an emergency on the Korean Peninsula, while a national security law enacted in 2015 made it possible for Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense, Michishita said.

This means that the SDF can engage in support activities, including combat missions, for the U.S. military in defending South Korea, he said.

Noting that the defense of Taiwan was added to the list of missions for the Japan-U.S. alliance recently, Michishita said that Japan, the United States and South Korea should deepen their cooperation and strengthen information-sharing under the General Security of Military Information Agreement, or GSOMIA.

“South Korea has also been increasing its defense spending, and if the country strengthens its capability to deal with North Korea, Japan and the United States would be able to focus on the defense of Taiwan and therefore contribute to regional security,” he said.

Source : JapanTimes