Will this be a means for progress on the abduction issue?
On November 20th the United States announced that, once again, it was designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. It has been nine years since North Korea was last designated as such.
Economic aid to countries designated as sponsors of terrorism is prohibited. To make economic and other sanctions effective, loans to the North would also be restricted. North Korea is already facing sanctions mandated by the United Nations Security Council, alongside other measures imposed by individual countries. This designation, therefore, puts Pyongyang in an even more restricted position.
When Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited North Korea in September 2002 and Kim Jong Il admitted to past abductions, the country was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism. In January that same year, United States President George W. Bush referred to North Korea as part of the so-called “Axis of Evil” and later designated it as a candidate for potential use of force.
This latest re-designation harkens back the situation 15 years ago. There is some possibility that, once again, in the face of such pressure, North Korea will seek better relations with Japan. In that sense, it is particularly significant that US President Donald Trump had a face-to-face meeting with former abductees and members of abductee families on November 6th.
During his press conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which also occurred on November 6th, President Trump stated, “I think it would be a tremendous signal if Kim Jong-un would send them back.” He further emphasized that, if Mr. Kim returned the abductees, “That would be the start of something—I think, it would be just something very special if they would do that.”
President Trump has consulted with Prime Minister Abe on various occasions concerning how exactly to respond to North Korea’s bellicose posturing. Naturally, the abduction issue was part of those consultations. Has Pyongyang not been given a big hint pertaining to how it could escape from the situation it has brought upon itself?
Of course, we cannot predict what North Korea might do and, when considering its recent history, we should not be optimistic. However, when we think of Megumi Yokota—who was abducted some 40 years ago when she was only 13—and the anguish of her parents, we can only hope for a resolution of the issue as soon as possible. We desire a shown of strength via Japanese diplomacy.
(Click here to read the original article in Japanese.)
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