Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

  • HOME
  • Speaking Out
  • 【#525】Joint Survey on Abduction Would Do More Harm than Good
Yoichi Shimada

【#525】Joint Survey on Abduction Would Do More Harm than Good

Yoichi Shimada / 2018.07.04 (Wed)

July 2, 2018

     The North Korean dictator has launched a diplomatic offensive because he has felt threats to his own life as the result of “maximum pressure” strategy led by Japan and the United States. Until Pyongyang completes the dismantlement of its nuclear bombs, sanctions on North Korea should not be eased. As asserted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan should not lift its sanctions on North Korea, let alone provide financial assistance unless the issue of North Korea’s abduction of Japanese citizens is resolved.
     However, there has reemerged publicly an idea of commissioning a Japan-North Korea joint survey committee to address the abduction issue, thus giving priority to the normalization of relations with North Korea. Proponents of the idea include some lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
     If North Korea returns all abductees with complete honesty, no survey in the North is necessary. In a country where all information is forged and freedom of speech is non-existent, any decent interviews or evidence collection cannot be expected. Such a reality notwithstanding, making a proposal to set up the joint survey committee amounts to sending a message that if the survey results in the notification of some abductees’ deaths, the government would accept the results and conciliate public opinion. Instead Japan should say, “We have our own information. North Korea should return all abductees honestly.” This is the only position Japan should take. Any other position would do more harm than good.

Questionable 10-year denuclearization plan
     As for a process for North Korea’s denuclearization, a group of U.S. experts has made a risky proposal. The group led by Stanford University Prof. Siegfried Hecker published a roadmap for North Korea’s denuclearization on May 28 as reported by The New York Times. I heard the proposal attracted attention from the U.S. Department of State and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
     According to Hecker, it would take one year to shut down nuclear reactors in the first phase while nuclear weapons and missiles would be left untouched. In the second phase, it would take two to five years to disassemble nuclear reactors while nuclear weapons would be declared and reduced, with missiles being declared and disabled. In the third and final phase, it would take six to 10 years to eliminate nuclear weapons and missiles. Thus, the entire denuclearization process is estimated to take at least 10 years or probably more than 15 years.
     If the denuclearization is designed to remove the threat of nuclear missiles, however, the core of the threat such as nuclear weapons themselves and guidance systems for intermediate- and long-range missiles will have to be shipped out of North Korea first. Under the so-called “Libya model,” it was only about one month after then Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi officially vowed to eliminate nuclear weapons when large U.S. military transport aircraft brought the core out of Libya. Even in the case of North Korea that has far more nuclear weapons and missiles than Libya had, their shipment out of the country could be completed in several months if Pyongyang cooperates seriously.
Hecker proposal could lead to North Korean deception
     Hecker concludes that the Libya model is tantamount to a surrender scenario and could never be accepted by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Hecker also says that as nuclear weapons would have to be disassembled safely by North Korean engineers who made them, their shipment out of North Korea would be “naive and dangerous.” If so, these weapons can be brought out of the country along with those engineers. Hecker might have no such measure in mind.
     Hecker argues that North Korea would never abandon nuclear weapons unless it is sure of its national security and that “coexistence and interdependence” should be realized first. This may mean that the lifting of sanctions and the expansion of trade and investment must come before the denuclearization. Pyongyang could take advantage of the Hecker proposal for deceiving the United States.

Yoichi Shimada is Planning Committee Member, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, and Professor at Fukui Prefectural University.