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North Korea/Japan Talks Cut Short: No One is Surprised March 8, 2007

Posted by David in Japan, North Korea.

Talks aimed at normalizing relations between the two North-East Asian countries ended abruptly, and in a typical North Korean fashion Thursday March 8, 2007 after the North refused to go on further if Japan would insist on discussing the abduction issue.
The DPRK considers the matter closed, but in Japan it is anything but, and remains a very emotional topic.

According to the Asahi Shimbun (08-03-2007), “no agreement was reached on any point, nor was any decision made on when the two sides would next meet.”

Xinhua (08-03-2007) went on to print what I can only assume to be a lie from North Korea’s Song Il Ho, the DPRK chief negotiator for these talks. He claimed that Japan stated that, “even if it is proved that the victims are dead, it cannot be said the abduction issue is resolved. In a word, they said that we must return the dead to Japan as alive people. If that cannot be resolved it cannot be said the issue is resolved.”

Not only does it not make any sense, but it is also not something one would expect to hear from Japan. However, one could easily imagine North Korea saying this type of comment.

The fact that these talks would end in this manner does not surprise anyone. As a matter-of-fact it was sort of expected in some circles.

What’s next for Japan? How can they deal with such an irrational state, one that has threatened Nihon more than once?

I am quite eager to see what the next step in this dance will be.



1. Shingen - March 9, 2007

Well, I have to say that while the statement seems illogical, in many ways, Japan is asking for that outcome. This is particularly true over Megumi Yokota where the North returned her remains, her child, her husband (to South Korea), and yet she is still believed to be alive by a number of the more hardcore abduction issue-pursuers. For these people, the issue cannot be resolved if Yokota is not returned alive.

On the other hand, it might be a statement to push the DPRK into a corner. If you say you want everyone alive, because you believe they are, then the opposition might give as much evidence as possible to prove it. If that is the strategy though, it is doomed to failure for two reasons: (1) Japan is not offering any explicit incentive (one can assume) and (2) the North Korea can say such a thing and make Japan’s negotiating strategy seem ridiculous.

I cannot dismiss the statement out of hand.

PS: Did you get my email about my comment to the post ‘Yakuza’? You need to confirm that it is not spam by clicking on the Akismet blocked x number of pages and finding it there 🙂

2. canexafish - March 9, 2007

As I understand it, the remains returned were not that of Megumi Yokota, and even appeared to be of a male. Furthermore, the body was cremated twice. Why?

If the statement is true, then the Japanese strategy will fail. However, I have serious doubts… I also have serious doubts that all the victims have been returned and/or have died.

Oh, Shingen, I did found the links. Thank you very much. They, along with a few other comments had been identified as Spam.

3. Shingen - March 9, 2007

Well, the remains were DNA tested, however an article in the Lancet (the British medical journal) discounted the accuracy of DNA testing, with that method (mitachondria from burned bones). Furthermore, appeals to the Japanese to allow tests to be conducted by an independent body to attempt to replicate the results have been refused. Another aspect of this is handled on the wikipedia page. I don’t recall anything about a double cremation however, although the remains of Kaoru Matsuki were cremated twice and were hence unable to be tested. This was supposedly because his remains were lost (and not the only instance), but eventually recovered. I discussed this over at my blog some time ago, for anyone who needs an overview.

I doubt that any are left alive, however, were some alive and working in spy training schools, then releasing them would risk exposing agents (at a time when they are crucial to DPRK intelligence… after all, it is difficult to run legals in a state in which you have no formal diplomatic relations). However, in the case of at least one of the returned abductees, Yasushi Chimura had been working as a document translator and so its possible that those returned were of low risk of exposure to North Korea. Although I cannot say for sure if that is the case, and I truly am uncertain that any of the abductees are left alive (except for perhaps Kyoko Matsumoto, and any others yet to be added to the official list).

And indeed, I have serious doubts as to whether this issue can be resolved for these very reasons. To me, it is an issue best resolved after the normalisation of relations, however Shinzo Abe thinks otherwise.

4. Shingen - March 9, 2007

Looks like a reply of mine for this post was also considered spam 🙂 Too many links I guess.

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