TOKYO (AP) - North Korea’s East Asia neighbors - Japan, China and South Korea - have a shared goal of denuclearizing the peninsula, but what may come out of Tuesday’s summit in Singapore between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has different and possibly conflicting implications for their security, economic and geopolitical interests.
Japan, still unable to meet Kim directly, is relying on Trump for almost everything from its security to an accounting of its citizens who were abducted decades ago by the North; South Koreans remain skeptical but also embrace hope that a positive outcome of the talks could push forward a Korean War peace treaty and further cooperation; and China, a U.S. rival that is increasing its regional presence, is seeking to continue exerting its influence on North Korea.
Here are the views and concerns of the three stakeholders:
Japan, a U.S. ally whose diplomatic policies largely mirror Washington‘s, is relying on Trump because Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been unable to meet Kim. Japan worries about being marginalized by other regional players who have increased their interaction with North Korea. Abe doesn’t want Trump to strike a compromise on North Korea’s missile program that would leave Japan exposed to shorter-range missiles that do not reach the U.S. mainland, or would relieve pressure on North Korea before it takes concrete steps toward complete denuclearization. If Trump focuses on long-range missiles and a peace treaty, which might lead to a reduction of U.S. troops in South Korea, it would pose a security risk for Japan, analysts say. “That would put Japan in a very, very dismal position moving forward,” said Stephen Nagy, an international relations professor at International Christian University in Tokyo.
The best scenario for Japan would be a commitment by Trump to diplomatic engagement to achieve North Korea’s complete denuclearization and his help in getting the North to make progress on the abduction issue. Japan says at least 17 Japanese were abducted by North Korea to train its spies in Japanese language and culture. North Korea has acknowledged abducting 13 and allowed five of them to visit Japan in 2002, where all five remained. Families of the other abductees are getting old and many see the Trump-Kim summit as their last chance for a breakthrough in determining their fate. Japan hopes to hold talks with North Korea after a successful Trump-Kim summit, and Abe voiced his willingness to do so Thursday after meeting Trump in Washington. Japan says...