Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Tsutomu Nishioka

【#501】Don’t Be Fooled by North Korea

Tsutomu Nishioka / 2018.03.14 (Wed)

March 12, 2018

     Since North Korea successfully conducted its sixth nuclear test last September, I have predicted dictator Kim Jong Un would “accept substantial negotiations to save his own life” (Speaking Out #465, September 4, 2017) as U.S. military pressure and economic sanctions under United Nations Security Council resolutions produce effects. The prediction has come true at last.
     At the same time, however, I have pointed out that North Korea has a behavioral pattern in which it accepts talks if feeling painful because of sanction and pressure and then uses deception. North Korea did so under Kim Jong Un’s two predecessors Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

Pattern of using deception
     Kim Jong Un offered talks with U.S. President Donald Trump and Trump accepted the offer. Trump conveyed his acceptance of a U.S.-North Korea summit to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe directly via phone. The Japanese and U.S. leaders agreed to continue to exert maximum pressure on North Korea until it takes specific actions. What I call the first phase will continue. Under the past pattern, Kim Jong Un will use deception in talks representing the second phase. Abe, who has tackled the North Korean problem for a long time, should have advised Trump not to be fooled by Pyongyang.
     In fact, China has played a key role in bringing about the U.S.-North Korea summit. China accounts for 90% of North Korea’s external trade. Since September, China has not only steadfastly implemented U.N. sanctions, ceasing to buy coal, iron ore and seafood from North Korea, but also discontinued selling food such as rice and sugar, iron products and building materials to North Korea outside of the U.N. sanctions,. The impact of China’s sanctions has been great.

Keep watch on China’s continued sanctions
     “The present situation is similar to the early stage of ‘Arduous March’ of late 1990s when millions of people died of starvation in North Korea,” said an informant with connections to the inside of North Korea. The informant told me of the following surprising story:
     City of Pyongsong close to Pyongyang began to see citizens dying of hunger last December. Regional community leaders were ordered to visit community member households every day. One leader finds dead persons every time when patrolling 40 to 50 households. Deaths are seen at houses of elderly people, children left alone for a long time by their parents on business trip and other socially vulnerable people. Hunger deaths are also found at railway stations almost every morning.
     Market rice prices are stable because food is failing to sell due to the rising number of citizens who cannot make money on sales to China, the informant said, adding that Kim Jong Un is concerned on people’s livelihoods and has a sense of crisis on the present situation.
     It is right for Japan and the United States to retain sanctions on North Korea while accepting talks. However, it is unknown whether China will stay in line with the United States and Japan to the end. Strict watch should be kept not only on moves of South Korea’s Moon Jae In government but also on China to prevent it from changing its attitude toward North Korea.

Tsutomu Nishioka is a member of the Planning Committee at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and Visiting Professor at Reitaku University.