Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Tsutomu Nishioka

【#563】Crucial Stage Coming for Rescuing Japanese Abductees

Tsutomu Nishioka / 2018.12.19 (Wed)

December 17, 2018

     A climactic battle is coming for rescuing Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea. In the first ever U.S.-North Korea summit in June, U.S. President Donald Trump urged North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to address the abduction issue. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly said that he would meet with Kim one-on-one to resolve the issue. International relations involving the abduction issue thus moved fast this year. While it is regrettable that no specific development has been made to rescue abductees, North Korea has been cornered to the extent that there exists some hunger deaths under tough international sanctions and domestic discontent with the Kim regime among cadres and people.

North Koreans discontent with self-help approach
     Supported by Prime Minister Abe and National Security Adviser John Bolton who accurately understand that any dictatorship does not make a concession unless it is pressured, President Trump, while saying that he likes Kim, has continued to enhance economic sanctions on North Korea and threaten to take a physical action unless Kim decides to dismantle nuclear missiles.
     Since September, the Kim regime has found that the U. S. would not ease sanctions and reiterated political propaganda urging people to overcome the current economic crisis with self-help and self-sufficiency efforts, according to North Korean internal documents given by North Korean defector and human rights activist Kim Seong Min at an international seminar organized jointly by the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea and its private and parliamentary supporting groups.
     The human rights activist quoted a North Korean citizen as telling an informant in the North:
     “Under Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un, they have touted self-help and self-sufficiency for more than a half century. Any more self-sufficiency efforts would mean that we would have to enter forests again, strip the bark off pine trees and dig up weeds, and eat them.”

The only chance for all abductee to return to Japan
     The Trump administration has imposed not only direct sanctions on North Korea but also secondary sanctions to exclude foreign financial institutions dealing with North Korea from the dollar settlement network to effectively prevent China and South Korea from supporting North Korea. Therefore, we can take advantage of time. As time passes by, the Kim regime will be plagued with serious social unrest on massive starvation. The regime will have no choice but to decide to dismantle nuclear missiles and obtain massive aid worth as much as 1 trillion yen (about $9 billion) from Japan. To get such Japanese aid, Pyongyang will have to resolve the abduction problem. It is destined to do so.
     Like his father Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un could issue a fake report that abductees have died. In a bid to resolve the problem with such report, the United Front Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea blatantly cooperated this year with a Japanese group seeking such resolution. We are reaching a crucial stage in which Japan-North Korea relations finally move with the progress of U.S.-North Korea nuclear negotiations, when we would have the only chance to win younger Kim’s decision to return all Japanese abductees back home.

Tsutomu Nishioka is a senior fellow and a Planning Committee member at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and Visiting Professor at Reitaku University. He covers South and North Koreas.