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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 April 25 - May 8  > Japan should contribute to Panmunjom Declaration’s goal of building peace on Korean Peninsula
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2018 April 25 - May 8 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Japan should contribute to Panmunjom Declaration’s goal of building peace on Korean Peninsula

April 29, 2018

Akahata editorial

The third North-South Korea summit meeting took place in South Korea following the second one eleven years ago. The previous summits were held outside the country. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korea State Affairs Commission Chair Kim Jong-un signed the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula. In the declaration, the two leaders agreed to: improve and develop bilateral relationships; ease military tension and eliminate hostilities; and work together to build a structure of lasting peace which includes a complete denuclearization of the peninsula. These agreements, along with the fact that the meeting included one-to-one sessions and lasted a long time, indicate that Moon and Kim are determined to open up a new era of peace and reconciliation. The unhindered implementation of the declaration is of paramount importance.

Agreement to end hostile relations

The leaders of North and South Korea in the declaration state that they confirmed support for the common goal of realizing a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. Since March, in separate meetings with South Korea’s special envoy, China’s president Xi Jingping and the U.S. special envoy, North Korea expressed its positive stance toward working for denuclearization. Still, it is significant that Pyongyang agreed to include the nuclear-free commitment in the joint statement with South Korea and that North Korea’s media reported it.

The declaration does not go into detail about what the “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” precisely means, how to verify it, and by when it should be implemented. The decision of these points will be effectively up to talks between North Korea and the U.S. South Korea admitted that it will take time to achieve the goals agreed upon and that a North Korea-U.S. agreement is essential in this regard (April 19, President Moon). The success of a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim, the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit meeting expected to be held soon, will be of decisive importance.

The Panmunjom Declaration envisages North Korea and the United States, despite their enmity, working jointly with South Korea and China to bring an end to the Korean War which entered into a ceasefire agreement 65 years ago and turn the armistice into a peace treaty this year. North Korea has long justified its nuclear and missile development programs as a “deterrent” to the continued U.S. military threats. In order to achieve full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a peace treaty is vital.

The North and South Korean leaders affirmed that they will “actively seek the support and cooperation of the international community for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” The need is for countries throughout the world to support the two Korean leaders’ resolve to establish peace and work for reconciliation.

These moves toward peace on the Korean Peninsula will have a significant impact on the peace and security of all of Northeast Asia. In addition to the Abe government’s attempt to use the threat from North Korea as a pretext for creating the national security legislation (the war laws) and revising Article 9 of the Constitution, the issue of the U.S. military presence in Okinawa as well as in other prefectures will be questioned anew.

The JCP in its 2014 Congress proposes a plan to create a framework of peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia. In this initiative, the JCP calls on parties concerned in the region to promote dialogue and cooperation aimed at departing from security which relies on military deterrence to security based on mutual trust and respect and shifting from engaging in an arms buildup to disarmament. The transformation toward working for peace on the Korean Peninsula has the potential to serve as a starting point for Northeast Asia to move forward to build a regional community of peace.

Now is the time for the Japanese government to radically change its stance which prioritizes pressure over dialogue and instead establish a viable diplomatic strategy. The government should diplomatically address North Korean issues through realistic negotiations.

Contribute to historic move

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo before the inter-Korean talks requested that the issue of North Korea's abduction of Japanese nationals be discussed during the North-South summit. This issue, however, should be resolved through direct Tokyo-Pyongyang negotiations with assistance from the international community. Based on the 2002 Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration and the 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks (U.S., South Korea, China, North Korea, Japan, and Russia), Japan should comprehensively resolve pending issues which include nuclear weapons, missiles, abduction of Japanese, and historical questions, and should then work to normalize diplomatic relations with North Korea. This is the only realistic way for Japan to participate and contribute to the historic move working to create a peace structure in this region.
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