Why Shinzo Abe & Kim Jong-Un Are Going to Embrace

Shinzo Abe and Kim Jong-un need each other in a way that few national leaders have needed each other since the early days of World War II — and they appear likely to become summit partners even if it means alienating their traditional friends and allies.

What N. Korea’s young hereditary ruler needs more than anything is a Grade A economic power to help rebuild and prime his nation’s broken and rusty economic pump. That would help it break the ice with other nations that have been reluctant to violate the US-led economic blockade.

What Japan’s new headline-chasing prime minister needs is a geopolitical coup that will revive his nation’s flagging self-confidence by putting it out in front of regional developments instead of perpetually being victimized by them.

During the past decade Tokyo and Pyongyang have kept each other at a distance in deference to the wishes of their close allies and friends. Any move by Japan to take the initiative to boost ties with N. Korea would have been tantamount to thumbing its nose at Washington and Seoul and their concerted efforts at trying to bring Pyongyang to heel. Any effort by Pyongyang to cozy up to Tokyo would have offended its old generals with memories of Japan’s brutal colonial rule, and Beijing, its sole military ally for the past sixty years.

Now both Japan and N. Korea find themselves increasingly at odds with their traditional allies.

Washington has made it clear that it won’t back Tokyo in the dispute with Beijing over the Senkakus (Diaoyudao). No US aircraft carriers and missile cruisers will be sent to keep Chinese submarines, ships and fighters from slowly tightening their picket around the Senkakus. Washington is committed on paper to responding militarily against any Chinese attack on Japanese assets, but Beijing doesn’t need to fire a single shot. It will simply continue using its inexorably growing numerical superiority in ships, jets and manpower to put the Senkakus gradually out of reach of Japanese defensive capability.

S. Korea is challenging Japan in its most important export segments — everything from consumer electronics to chips to sophisticated oil tankers and state-of-the-art cars. It has also begun eclipsing Japan both culturally and politically around the world. Abe’s aggressive stance on comfort women, visits to Yasukuni Shrine, and the rocky little outcroppings known as Dokdo (Takeshima) has convinced many S. Koreans that he wants to lead Japan to embrace its imperialist past.

Abe knows that he has to change its current dynamics with China and S. Korea if Japan is to keep from becoming East Asia’s punching bag. In practical terms Abe sees only two initiatives within his power that can change the current oppressive equation. One is to send the yen plunging to make Japanese exports more competitive with those of S. Korean and China regardless of the impoverishing effect on the less affluent half of the nation’s population. The other is to have Japan fill the vacuum left by Beijing and Seoul in response to Kim’s recent provocations.

Abe has already done the former, sending the yen on its way to losing nearly half of its value between last February and next, sending exports and stocks surging while increasing the cost of fuel, food and household goods. Now he’s about to pull off what may be the most daring move of his political career: position Japan as N. Korea’s main patron and economic sponsor.

Nothing could be more welcome for Kim Jong-un than the prospect of a summit with Abe. It’s Kim’s last and best chance to secure meaningful economic aid and legitimacy from a nation with the means to bestow both. Nothing could better vindicate Kim’s five months of saber rattling like getting Japan to fill the void left by S. Korea and China at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the Diamond Mountain resort and various projects in Rason and other special economic zones.

Abe has the ideal cover to keep his pas de deux with Kim from appearing to be seeking to support East Asia’s public enemy number one as a vehicle of self-promotion or opportunistic national aggrandizement. Seventeen Japanese citizens were abducted by North Korean agents between 1977 and 1983. During a 2002 summit between former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi and the late Kim Jong-il Pyongyang admitted to having abducted 13. It returned five abductees and their families but insisted all the others were dead. Having good reason to disbelieve Pyongyang, Tokyo has made the return of all abductees or their remains a foreign policy priority.

To be sure, making some substantial progress on the abduction issue would in itself elevate Abe’s stature even further than it has been by aggressive debasing of yen. But to both he and Kim the real objective of a summit would be to elevate the stature of both leaders and of their respective nations by resolving the much bigger issue on the minds of everyone concerned — ending N. Korea’s nuclear weapons development and restoring its economy to a condition that will allow the proper feeding of all its citizens.

If an Abe-Kim summit manages to take a step toward achieving those objectives, both leaders will have strengthened their personal prospects immeasurably. In addition to trumping Beijing and Seoul in regional politics, Abe will have blunted a challenge from the right by charismatic Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto who has recently appeared to be competing with Abe to sound like the more rabid nationalist. Kim will be able to stick a tongue out at Beijing and Seoul while securing a foundation for his stated goal of raising his people’s living standard.



Cleo · May 21, 01:07 AM · #

I don’t think this is a folie a deux. KJU just doesn’t reek of evil.

I’m sure everything will be okay in that Japan will be defeated as painfully as possible.

I know DPRK will not let Abe offer useless frenemy assistance – it has to be first class all the way – none of those crap gifts like the bus for Mongolia with the too high steps.

Zexu Lin · May 21, 06:37 PM · #

Good analysis; really good. Creative. Reservations as to Japan’s sticking it up to its perennial Big US Brother, and KJU’s ditto to his old generals, also country’s history. But a good, creative analysis. Break-out-of-the-box.

Sinopuppy · May 23, 05:02 AM · #

Agree DPRK wanna get a new sugar daddy.

Sinopuppy · May 23, 09:38 AM · #

North Korea says willing to take China’s advice to start talks

BEIJING (Reuters) – North Korea is willing to take China’s advice and enter into talks, Chinese state television cited an envoy of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as saying, following weeks of tension on the Korean peninsula after the North’s latest nuclear test.
However, that prospect seems unlikely as North Korea has repeatedly said it will not abandon nuclear weapons while the United States insists North Korea must take meaningful steps on denuclearization before there can be talks.
The visit to Beijing by Choe Ryong-hae, a top North Korean military officer, is the most high-level contact between North Korea and China in about six months.
Ties have been hurt between the two supposed allies by the North’s third nuclear test in February, despite China’s disapproval, and by China agreeing to U.N. sanctions on the North in response and starting to put a squeeze on North Korean banks.
China was also alarmed by North Korea’s threats this year to wage nuclear war on South Korea and the United States in retaliation for the sanctions, fearing any conflict would inevitable have disastrous consequences for China.
Choe told Liu Yunshan, the Chinese Communist Party’s fifth-ranked leader, that Kim had sent him to China “to improve, consolidate and develop ties between China and North Korea”.
Choe was accompanied by a high-powered delegation on a trip that appeared to be a bid by North Korea to mend frayed relations with its most important economic and diplomatic backer.
“North Korea lauds China’s enormous efforts to maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and push for a return to talks and consultations for the problems of the Korean peninsula, and is willing to accept China’s suggestion to have talks with all parties,” Choe told the Chinese official, according to China’s state broadcaster CCTV.
Liu, who is also China’s propaganda tsar, told the North Korean envoy that “peace and stability on the Korean peninsula accords with the interests of all countries in the region”.
“We hope that all sides uphold the aim of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, maintain peace and stability and the using of dialogue and consultation to resolve problems, take practical steps to ameliorate the tense situation … to restart six party talks as soon as possible and work hard for long-lasting peace and stability in northeast Asia and on the Korean peninsula.”
China has repeatedly urged North Korea to return to the so-called six party talks process, aimed at denuclearization.
The United States and its allies believe the North violated a 2005 aid-for-denuclearization deal by conducting a nuclear test in 2006 and pursuing a uranium enrichment program that would give it a second path to a nuclear weapon in addition to its plutonium-based program.
Six-party aid-for-disarmament talks, involving the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, Russia and host China, collapsed in 2008 when the North walked away from the deal.
Repeated attempts by China to get North Korea to embark upon Chinese-style economic reforms and shift attention away from the military and bellicose actions have made little apparent progress.
North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said Choe had been taken to a Beijing economic zone, much in the same way China used to take late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to see modern Chinese factories on his swings through the world’s second-largest economy.
“North Korea hopes to concentrate on the economy and improve people’s livelihoods and is willing to create a peaceful foreign environment,” Choe told Liu.
Choe’s comments came on the second day of his trip to China. He has also met Wang Jiarui, head of the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s International Department, a frequent conduit for communication between the two sides.
Choe is one of the tight coterie of officials around Kim Jong-un, who has been in power for just over a year after succeeding his father, Kim Jong-il.
The envoy is a long-time political administrator and was surprisingly made a vice marshal in the army last year despite having no military background.

Cleo · Jun 13, 11:41 AM · #

yes it’s WRONG to characterize Japan as an “abnormal race:

how come the Japanese aren’t raping each ohter on the streets now that the Japanese government no longer officially offers Comfort Houses were the human toilets are locked inside for life for you to rape them to death? What about all those otaku and NEET males who have never had a girlfriend? Why aren’t they ripping off female pedestrian’s clothing like they did to Shanghainese girls on the streets of that much maligned and brutalized occupied city?

Where’s the meth?

Cleo · Jun 13, 11:43 AM · #

so as long as Hashimoto never leaves his country i.e. stays local, we’re all good???

Uiyer · Nov 6, 11:20 PM · #

Have others forgotten Taiwan in the mix as it is an independent and sovereign country. The leaders and people have overwhelmingly considered themselves as Taiwanese.

Uiyer · Nov 6, 11:23 PM · #

Have others forgotten Taiwan in the mix as it is an independent and sovereign country. The leaders and people have overwhelmingly considered themselves as Taiwanese.

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