Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Fireworks in Hanoi?

On Wednesday, 7 March, talks in the Japan-North Korea normalization working group are set to resume in Hanoi.

I'm not entirely clear on what to expect. Since the six-party agreement last month, Japan has ratcheted up the pressure on North Korea to come clean on the abductions issue -- Abe once again urged North Korea to take concrete steps in today's session of the Upper House Budget Committee -- but I have seen no signs that Japan is any closer to having its demands satisfied.

What I find particularly interesting is that according to the Mainichi Shimbun article linked above, Abe said, "The US perfectly understands and supports the Japanese position [my emphasis]." Is this true? Do the US and Japanese governments have the same definition for what constitutes "progress" on the abductions issue? What happens if North Korea makes some initial offer on abductions, together with verifiable progress on nuclear weapons, that satisfies the US but not Japan? Will the US still be perfectly understanding and supportive?

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