Japan’s Dual-Approach Policy toward North Korea: Past, Present, and Future
Published on: Jul 12, 2005

Yun Dukmin is a professor at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Seoul. He has a B.A. in political science from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, a M.A. from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Ph.D in International Politics from Keio University. Currently, Dr. Yun is also teaching at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and Hanyang University, and advising the ROK Ministry of National Unification and the National Security Council. He contributes columns to Dong-a Ilbo and JoongAng Ilbo. His areas of specialization are U.S.-Korea-Japan security relations and North Korean politics. He is the author of North Korean Nuclear Issues: Negotiating History and U.S.-Japan Security Relations After the Cold War. Dr. Yun’s recent contributed articles to journals include “Major Challenges and Tasks ahead for ROK-US Alliance,” “Japan’s Changing Defense Strategy and Push for Emergency Legislation,” and “North Korea's Nuclear Reality: Intention and Capability." Born in Seoul, he is married with one son and one daughter.

On February 10, 2005, North Korea surprised the world once again with its sudden declaration that it possessed nuclear weapons and was suspending its participation in the six-party talks. Alarming as it was, the North’s bombshell announcement and yet another display of brinkmanship puzzled those who were cautiously anticipating the North’s returning to the negotiation table. Other participating countries of the six-party talks could hardly hide the frustration and displeasure in their voices. Especially in Japan, the public’s already mounting anger, which was triggered by the North’s past abductions of Japanese citizens, was further aggravated. [Ed.: Japanese nationals were abducted in the 1970s and 1980s and used to teach Japanese language and culture to North Korean spies. A North Korean agent arrested in 1985 had assumed the identity of one of the abductees. Japan began to raise the issue in negotiations with North Korea in the 1990s and later turned over the names of fifteen Japanese believed to have been seized. In September 2002, at the first summit meeting ever held between Japan and the D.P.R.K., Kim Jong-il acknowledged the North’s responsibility for thirteen abductions, but said that eight of the abductees had died.] In Japan’s political circles, fierce debates on adopting hard-line policy options such as economic sanctions against the North began to dominate the national agenda. Consequently, Japan’s nearly fifteen years of efforts at normalizing its relations with the North lost precious momentum.

Since the end of the Cold War, Japan has pursued normalization of relations with the North (or D.P.R.K.) in anticipation that it would better serve regional peace and stability and could put an end to its burdensome post-war settlement issues. Similarly, North Korea seemed to acknowledge that improved relations with Japan would be vital for reviving its failed economy. Thus, Japan-D.P.R.K. normalization offered incentives to both parties and normalization was considered both a key to opening up the D.P.R.K. to the international community and a major inducement for it to give up its nuclear programs. As Pyongyang fails to remove the obstacle of the abduction issue by providing more transparency on what happened to the abductees and shows unwillingness to resolve the nuclear issue, normalization talks between the two countries is faltering.

Nevertheless, insofar as sanctions against North Korea are concerned, Japan’s official position has been particularly prudent. In contrast to the public’s deep antagonism toward and vocal criticism of the North, the Japanese government more or less retains composure in dealing with Pyongyang. Deep down, government officials and politicians alike may prefer a more hard-line approach to North Korea. To date, however, the Japanese government has been reluctant to undertake sanctions or coercion against the North. Instead, it repeatedly states that the best way to solve the North Korean nuclear problem should be through ‘dialogue and negotiation” in the six-party process, while urging the North to come back to the negotiating table.

To be sure, many factors shed light on Japan’s reluctance in adopting “head-on” policy alternatives. First, Japan has maintained an odd double-sided diplomatic approach toward North Korea. While it is working in collaboration with the U.S. and South Korea in the six-party talks aimed at dismantling the North Korean nuclear programs, Tokyo is also seeking to establish bilateral dialogue channels with Pyongyang so as to have a say in Korean peninsula affairs as well as to expand its influence in the region. Second, realistically speaking, Japan’s own sources of leverage are limited at best. Japan realizes that unilateral sanctions alone may not be sufficient to change the North’s behavior. Third, Japan finds the North Korean threat a good justification for advancing its goal of becoming a “normal state,” freer to build up its armed forces and deploy them abroad. Had it not been for Pyongyang’s provocations, it would have been harder for Japan to rationalize the goal. All these reasons are intertwined in Japan’s reluctance to adopt hard-line policies against North Korea. Taking each reason into account will provide important clues for analyzing Japan’s policy toward North Korea.

Japan’s Dual Approach to North Korea: Talking with the Stranger While Working with Allies

The most marked aspect of Japan’s foreign policy toward North Korea is its practice of double-sided or dual diplomacy. That is to say, while Japan has been working in concert with the United States and South Korea against the North Korean threats, it has also engaged in bilateral dialogue with the North.

Japan believes that its biggest security threat today is coming from its closest neighbors, North Korea and China. While Japan’s threat perception of China is somewhat remote and hypothetical, the perceived North Korean threat to Japan is becoming more and more immediate and realistic. For example, North Korea’s testing of a long-range ballistic missile that flew over the Japanese airspace in August 1998 heightened the sense of vulnerability among the Japanese public. Now, the threats from North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile development, along with its spy infiltrations into Japan, have constituted clear and present dangers to the security of Japan and are of paramount concern for Japanese policymakers and defense planners alike.

On the one hand, Japan is cooperating with the United States and South Korea to counter such threats. In particular, Japanese officials understand that close trilateral policy coordination between Tokyo, Washington, and Seoul in the six-party talks is crucial to resolving the nuclear and missile issues with North Korea.

On the other hand, while obviously stressing its strong bonds with the United States, and South Korea, Tokyo has also made efforts to establish security dialogue channels of its own with Pyongyang. Since the early 1990s, Japan has engaged in bilateral negotiations with the North including Prime Minister Koizumi’s two visits to Pyongyang. The purpose of diplomatic engagement was to resolve the pending issues between the two countries such as the abductions, the postwar settlement, and ultimately, Japan-D.P.R.K. normalization. In essence, Japan’s effort at rapprochement was aimed at securing effective political leverage toward the North and also at expanding its influence in Korean peninsular and regional affairs. Some in Tokyo had high hopes that Japan could use such leverage to help bring an end to the North Korean nuclear problem.

Normalization Talks and the Pyongyang Declaration: North Korea’s Reconciliation Gestures

North Korea responded to Japan’s rapprochement with conciliatory gestures. When Prime Minister Koizumi made the first ever summit visit by a Japanese prime minister to North Korea in September 2002, Chairman Kim Jong-il did not forget to give him some political gifts. After a meeting, the two countries came to an agreement manifested in the “Japan-North Korea Pyongyang Declaration.”

The declaration addressed major agenda items in the relationship between the two countries. The most pressing item for Japan during past negotiations had been North Korea’s kidnapping of Japanese nationals. In a surprising move, North Korea fully admitted to abducting fifteen Japanese, made a formal apology, and promised to punish those involved as well as to prevent any reoccurrence.1 This admission, heretofore considered unlikely if not wholly impossible, testifies to direness of the North’s need to improve ties with Japan.

The second item on Japan’s agenda, North Korea’s missile and nuclear threat, was also addressed, with Pyongyang pledging to adhere to international laws and regulations in resolving the nuclear crisis, while prolonging its promise of postponing missile tests beyond the initial deadline of 2003.

North Korea also expressed its willingness to participate in security dialogues with Japan. In response, Japan invoked former Prime Minister Murayama’s 1995 statement in making a formal apology for the “tremendous damage and suffering the people of Korea endured through its colonial rule in the past,” and agreed to make compensations in the form of economic cooperation, similar to the treaty it made with South Korea.

All in all, the declaration was tantamount to a “white flag of surrender” on North Korea’s part, aimed at establishing the foundations of normalized diplomatic relations between the two countries in the shortest time possible. Nevertheless, North Korea’s promises made in the Pyongyang Declaration were not promptly fulfilled, as some remaining issues of contention as well as unforeseen events following the Pyongyang Declaration once again plunged Japan-North Korea relations into uncertainty.

Japan’s postwar settlement was one such issue. The two parties could not reach agreement on the amount and forms of Japanese economic aid to Pyongyang as compensation for Japan’s wartime atrocities. Second, failure to ascertain just what happened to the Japanese abductees, together with the shocking revelation that most of the victims had likely died, triggered a flood of angry Japanese public opinion that surprised the Koizumi government. Tokyo also had yet to negotiate with Pyongyang to repatriate the remaining Japanese and their families from North Korea. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the outbreak of the second North Korean nuclear crisis effectively limited Japan’s room for diplomatic maneuver. When U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly visited Pyongyang in early October 2002, North Korea hinted at the existence of an enriched uranium-based nuclear arms program. This created a situation that no longer allowed for further negotiations between Japan and North Korea. Later, the reemerging North Korean nuclear problem was to be dealt with in a multilateral forum, the six-party talks.

Against this backdrop, Prime Minister Koizumi visited Pyongyang for his second bilateral talks in May 2004. The Japan-D.P.R.K. bilateral meeting was held in the presence of aides to Prime Minister Koizumi, Deputy Foreign Minister Tanaka, Director-General Yabunaka of the Asia directorate, and aides of Kim Jong-il and Minister Kang Sok-ju. The crux of the meeting was the return of the abductees: only five had been confirmed as able to return to their homeland. Their children’s return was rejected despite Koizumi’s hours of effort. Instead, both countries reached an agreement to let the family have a reunion in a third country, such as in China. Further, Japan asked for a reinvestigation of the deaths of the abductees and the whereabouts of the missing because no convincing explanation was given during the first bilateral meeting in September 2002. In response, Kim Jong-il expressed his will to reopen the investigation from the very beginning.

On another key issue, the nuclear crisis, Koizumi requested complete nuclear dismantlement, stating that “North Korea should not miss the chance of gaining many benefits from dismantling the nuclear program.” Kim Jong-il, in response, repeated his statement that although denuclearization is the final goal, as long as the United States is willing to keep open its options for a preemptive strike, North Korea will need its nuclear deterrent, thus ruling out complete dismantlement of the program. Koizumi’s effort could be considered as clearly informing the North of the U.S. position.

One of the most beneficial points for North Korea in the bilateral talks was the possibility that Japan could, in a sense, play a role as go-between in the North’s relations with the United States. Chairman Kim Jong-il had asked Koizumi to mediate U.S.-North Korea bilateral talks. What this meant was that Kim Jong-il might have hoped that Koizumi, who has close relations with Bush, would be able to arrange a possible future U.S.-North Korea meeting. At the 2004 G-8 meeting held in the United States, Koizumi explained the outcome of his visit to Pyongyang and actually delivered Kim Jong-il’s request for direct bilateral talks with the United States when he met with President Bush. Bush’s rejection of Koizumi’s suggestion illustrates existing differences of interests between the two states while sharing the same position concerning North Korea.

Unfortunate Incidents Cast Doubts

It is perhaps true that when the abducted Japanese returned to their homeland, it was expected to bring closure to the most troubling issue between Japan and North Korea. By August 2004, all the abducted Japanese citizens and their families including the U.S. army deserter Jenkins and his children had returned to Japan.2 Consequently, both countries hoped that they would be able to develop more constructive bilateral relations in the future.

Nevertheless, the abductee issue is far from over. In late 2004, Japan-D.P.R.K. bilateral negotiations ran into severe turbulence as Pyongyang’s conciliatory gestures backfired. Although North Korea handed over the cremated remains of Yokoda Megumi to her family in November 2004, the remains were later found false after a series of rigorous tests performed by Japanese authorities. DNA testing results were said to show no matching genetic evidence to that of the deceased victim. Instead, according to the Japanese authorities, the remains were suspected to be someone else’s or from more than one person. Reaction among the Japanese public was strong, and anti-North Korea sentiment was extremely exacerbated.

This sentiment was clearly demonstrated in the media opinion polls taken shortly after the false cremated remains incident. An Asahi newspaper poll showed that 89% of the Japanese voiced their displeasure regarding the abducted Japanese issue and 63% supported sanctions against North Korea. In a similar poll taken by Kyodo News, 73% supported sanctions and only 22% thought that Japan should continue negotiations with the North. Not only that, the families of some of the victims initiated a domestic campaign to boycott North Korean products. As North Korea provided neither specific evidence nor convincing explanation, Japan’s domestic developments continued to narrow the scope of Tokyo’s foreign policy options in pursuing relations with Pyongyang.

While Japan’s policy was under pressure at home, North Korea dropped another bombshell. On February 10, 2005 the North Korean Foreign Ministry unexpectedly declared the possession of nuclear weapons and also announced that it would not participate in the six-party talks. Because of the North’s previous signals of appeasement toward Japan, this was viewed as even more provocative in the eyes of the Japanese. Not surprisingly, the Japanese public’s already mounting anger, which was triggered by the false cremated remains incident, was further aggravated.

In response, the Japanese government clearly stated its position that it will not improve relations with North Korea without solving the nuclear issue as well as the abduction issue, and without formalized relations, no economic aid can be delivered. The momentum built up by the Pyongyang declaration dissipated in the high winds of negative public opinion within Japan as nuclear-related tension spread across the entire Northeast Asian region.

Hawks Gained Power

In the meantime, a noticeable power shift has taken place in Japan’s political circles. As the atmosphere of reconciliation between Japan and North Korea rapidly cooled, the moderate faction in the Japanese Diet and those involved in the bilateral talks have lost the initiative. Prime Minister Koizumi suffered a sharp decline in popular support. Moreover, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which had initiated the normalization talks with North Korea, came under heavy attack from the people and the media. For instance, Deputy Foreign Minister Tanaka, who helped accomplish the 2002 Japan-D.P.R.K. summit meeting in Pyongyang, resigned in April 2005, after being criticized by many hard-liners as “too soft” on North Korea.

While the doves are losing ground, the hawks are raising their voices in support of sanctions against the North. Currently, backed by the worsening public opinion toward North Korea, hard-line policy advocates have gained more influence in controlling the foreign policy agenda vis-à-vis North Korea. LDP Deputy Secretary General Abe is the most prominent figure among many hard-liners. According to a recent poll, about 33% answered that Abe would be the best candidate for the next Prime Minister because of his strong leadership and determination. In Japan’s Foreign Ministry, the new Vice Foreign Minister Yachi assumed the position of his predecessor, Tanaka, and is expected to adopt more sanction-oriented policies against Pyongyang. Prime Minister Koizumi will be increasingly faced with even narrower policy alternatives, as the hard-liners prevail in Japanese politics.

In this light, Japan will likely take “tougher measures” should the North further exacerbate the current situation. Japan has already taken steps to prepare for implementation of such measures.

First, Japan has decided to inspect every one of 1,400 North Korean boats that enter its ports to intercept black market drugs, counterfeit bills, and missile components. By international agreement, Japan had already begun its process of inspecting North Korean ships. In June, 2004, a Bill to Ban Port Entry of Specific Ships was passed in the Diet,3 which allows Japan to deny port entry of vessels from a particular country when it is deemed necessary for maintaining its peace and security. Koizumi has, however, shown his will to lift the law if the North would uphold promises made in the Pyongyang Declaration during his visit in May 2004.

Second, the Japanese government is examining various ways of eventually prohibiting Chosen Soren (General Association of Korean Residents in Japan) from transferring funds to North Korea (roughly $200~500 million each year), and taking measures to limit such transactions in the meantime. It also decided to impose taxes on Chosen Soren’s facilities in Japan, heretofore exempted from taxation as diplomatic and/or public facilities.4

Third, since the 2001 spy boat incident, Japan has been fortifying measures to deter North Korean boats used for spying, as well as drug smuggling and other illicit operations, from entering Japanese waters unchallenged. Filling various holes in legislative and institutional procedures regarding the infiltration of spy boats, the Japanese government is taking a firm stance against this particular threat. In addition to allowing “warning shots” to be fired at offending vessels, Japan is acquiring new missile ships and armed helicopters, and has even created a special guard.

Fourth, Japan is taking part in talks for the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), proposed by President Bush. Since attending the PSI-related international forum held in Madrid, Spain in June 2003, Japan had been lending its support to the Initiative. For the first time ever, the Japanese Self Defense Forces (JSDF) will participate in a joint PSI exercise, which is scheduled to take place in Singapore, August 2005.

Fifth, most recently, Japan is carefully taking steps toward drafting a bill that addresses human rights in North Korea. The bill would be a Japanese version of the U.S. North Korea Human Rights Act, which came into effect in October 2004. The bill essentially has three main aspects: (1) protection of North Korean refugees requesting asylum in Japan’s diplomatic missions abroad and allowing their entry into Japan, (2) financial support to those (mostly NGOs) working for the improvement of North Korean human rights, and (3) active investigation of the Japanese abductees. Although Japan’s North Korea Human Rights Bill is considered to be one of the major policy tools to apply more pressure on the North, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has not yet submitted the bill due to unfinished legal and diplomatic considerations.5

Despite the fact that the hard-liners’ push for sanctions against North Korea is intensifying and that Japan has already made preparations for such sanctions, the Japanese government remains cool-headed. Why does it appear to be reluctant, when there is an unprecedented level of support for sanctions from the public?

First, the Japanese government thinks that it is still premature to rush into any major sanctions, for unilateral sanctions alone would not produce the desired effects. The declining volume of bilateral trade between Japan and North Korea makes the effectiveness of Japan’s unilateral economic sanctions questionable.7 Although such sanctions may affect the North’s faltering economy, their impact is expected to be limited at best since the North relies more on China.

Second, as the United States is maintaining its position of continuing the six-party talks, the Japanese government may have decided not to go against the U.S. intentions. As long as the United States holds to its current position, Japan would have to go along with other countries in the multilateral framework.

Third, and more importantly, Prime Minister Koizumi still makes Japan-North Korea normalization one of his personal priorities. He has believed in the past that this personal accomplishment would translate into a high level of popularity and he is understandably reluctant to give up his ambition. In addition, the Japanese government also cannot afford to lose influence in Korean peninsular affairs, for sanctions against the North would unavoidably reduce Tokyo’s leverage.

Japan’s Ambition to Be a ‘Normal State’

When looking more broadly at the North Korean problem, careful consideration must be given to another aspect. Japan finds ample justification in the North Korean threat for advancing its goal of becoming a “normal state.” As North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile development pose credible threats not only to Japan’s security but also to the region’s peace and stability, and the United States has been encouraging Japan to assume more international responsibilities, Japan has been working diligently to improve its defense posture, modernize its military, and try to expand its international role. In order to support this effort, Japan has pushed for new legislations of a series of emergency laws, revision of existing laws and bilateral treaties, and even constitutional amendments regarding Japan’s responsibilities in the U.S.-Japan alliance framework, and more broadly in U.N. operations.

At the heart of Japan’s effort is the “New National Defense Program Outline,” which essentially reveals Japan’s new strategy to cope more effectively with a wide range of security issues such as international terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional contingencies, and so forth. The new strategic basis is now shifted from the previous principle of exclusive defense to a new concept of “multifunctional and flexible defense” based on quick adaptiveness, enhanced mobility, and better flexibility.

In short, the New National Defense Program Outline of December 2004 was not only a timely reflection of perceived threats but also an incarnation of Japan’s ambition to become a normal state by enhancing its military capability and capacity to deploy force abroad. Whether such an ambitious goal can be actually materialized will likely remain as an open question, however. As Japan’s neighbors see the recent moves of Japan with concern and anxiety, there are many more obstacles for Japan to overcome. One of them is Japan’s troubled relations with its regional partners.

Japan’s Foreign Relations in the Region: Sources of Conflict Linger

When looking at the bigger picture, Japan’s recent relationship with its neighbors has cast dark clouds over Northeast Asia’s regional cooperation and coordinated policy implementation vis-à-vis North Korea. The fundamental source of the problem is that in the eyes of its neighbors Japan’s becoming a “normal state” looks like ”rightist-leaning” or “military expansionism.” While Japan opted to collaborate with the United States in the building of a strengthened alliance, it appears to take a more confrontational approach in dealing with its neighbors. Especially after the advent of the Koizumi regime, a series of issues, including Japan’s distortion of history textbooks, Koizumi’s visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, fishery problems, and more notably territorial disputes have complicated relations with South Korea and China.

There are a number of explanations why Japan’s relationships with its neighbors are troubled. A few general observations can be made about the fundamental problems of Japan’s foreign policy. First, the root causes of the current inter-state friction in the region – territorial disputes and history problems – are directly intertwined with Japan’s historical relations with its neighbors. Second, rivalry and “balance-of-power” psychology about regional hegemony are causing friction. Third, each country’s domestic politics, too, is playing a role, making unilateral concessions virtually impossible. This kind of mutual distrust and continued inter-state friction has the potential of exacerbating the structural instability of the region. In a sense, it can be said that behind the old and new sources of conflict, nationalism is manifesting itself. In the future, such nationalism would have an even larger presence and produce uncertainties in the region.


So far, this paper has discussed the general characteristics of Japan’s North Korea policy, the Japan-D.P.R.K. normalization talks, and other associated issues. Behind all these lies a common observation that Japan’s diplomacy toward North Korea seems to be marked by a dual approach, which is one of the major explanations for the Japanese government’s reluctance to impose sanctions against Pyongyang. Japan has called for strengthening the ties with South Korea and the United States to deal with the North Korean threat, on the one hand. It is also engaged in bilateral dialogue with the North to normalize the two countries’ relations, on the other. Japan’s dual-approach policy is, in other words, a different kind of “stick-and-carrot” policy – a mixture of containment and engagement.

Japan’s engagement or rapprochement effort, including Prime Minister Koizumi’s two visits to Pyongyang, was aimed at securing effective political leverage toward the North and also at expanding its influence in the Korean peninsular and regional affairs. Despite some political success such as the Pyongyang Declaration, North Korea’s conciliatory gestures backfired, undermined by continuing uncertainty regarding the fate of abductees and the fiasco of the suspect cremated remains of one of the victims.

Today, Japan is facing both foreign and domestic challenges. The Japanese government is under heavy pressure from its angry public to favor sanctions against the North. Although the hard-liners grow stronger in their domestic influence, the Japanese government as yet remains reluctant to take action.

It troubles the Japanese government that its new policy direction has become a major source of inter-state friction and dispute. As a result, coordinated policy-making and concerted policy implementation efforts among the key states in the region are often hindered, although they may prove to be essential in persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear programs.

In this sense, the six-party process and the trilateral policy coordination among the United States, South Korea and Japan will serve as an important test for Japan to bridge the gaps and differences between the countries in the region. The prolongation of the North Korean nuclear issue will also serve as a litmus test that determines whether the six-party talks would be able to bring about a peaceful resolution of the pending nuclear issue as well as the stability in the Northeast Asian region.

With respect to the six-party talks, Japan’s constructive role in the multilateral effort to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue has been limited, as Japan has stubbornly placed its priority on the solution of the abducted Japanese case. Although the Japanese public’s outrage over this particular issue is quite understandable, it has to be made clear that the case should not impede the six-party process.

So far Japan has been prudent in dealing with the North. Yet such prudence is precarious. At this stage, it seems unlikely that Japan will take a confrontational approach toward the North, for the aforementioned reasons. Japan’s dual-approach policy will likely continue, for it sees North Korea as a source of both challenges and opportunities.

Still, since North Korea itself poses a considerable threat to Japan, Japan would no longer hesitate to implement hard-line policy options against the North if the situation deteriorates further. Under those circumstances, Japan will act in concert with the United States to further strengthen its participation in the PSI and missile defense, and at the same time it will also execute its own unilateral coercive measures to put much more intense pressure on North Korea.

Even as North Korea comes back to the negotiation table of the six-party talks, there is simply no guarantee that the six parties can hammer out a tentative agreement, not to mention an ultimate solution. Should the problem be exacerbated as a result of North Korea’s either passive response to nuclear dismantlement or new military adventurism, the future of the six-party talks per se would be in doubt. So it seems that the balance between peaceful diplomacy and coercive measures will tilt quickly to the latter, since the patience of other five parties is exhausted. Perhaps we should not give up hope, for Japan’s dual approach may prove workable – this time, surely with more sticks than carrots.


1 North Korea acknowledged a total of 15 Japanese abductees, of who five were confirmed alive and other ten were either dead or missing. In October 2002, the five Japanese nationals returned to their homeland, Japan.

2 As of August 9, 2004, the return of the abducted Japanese and their families in North Korea including U.S. army deserter Jenkins and his children was completed. Afraid of harsh punishment, Jenkins initially refused to return to Japan, but persuaded by his Japanese wife Soga and the Japanese government, he returned to Japan on July 14, 2004. Upon his return, he was convicted and tried in the U.S. military court in Japan. On November 3, 2004, he was sentenced to a 30-day imprisonment and a dishonorable discharge.

3 The Committee on Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (LIT) of Japan’s House of Councilors passed the bill on June 1, 2005. The bill was again passed in the House of Representatives on June 14, 2004. The actual exercise of this measure, however, has been withheld.

4 Recently, Chosen Soren has suffered a substantial decrease in the number of its members to 150,000 from the peak of 280,000 in the mid 1980s. (1980: 280,000, 1990: 250,000, 2000: 190,000, and as of 2004: 150,000) As the North Korean nuclear issue as well as the abducted Japanese issue aggravated Japan-North Korea relationship, the membership has continued to decline.

5 The sharp decline of members’ contribution because of Japan’s long recession significantly worsened the financial status and the organizational structure, as well. The new generation’s lack of interest in ideology is another reason of such decline.

6 This is due to Japan’s belief that it needs to allow more time for North Korea to return to the Six-party talks, as so was requested by Korea. It is also partly due to Japan’s delay in defining the eligibility of North Koreans for refugee status and admittance for North Korean defectors. Moreover, Japan cannot rule out the possibility of North Korean spy infiltrations disguised as refugees.

7 For instance, according to the Japanese Ministry of Finance’s 2004 report, bilateral trade volume in 2003 decreased considerably. In 2003 Japan’s total export was 10.6 billion yen and total import was 20.1 billion yen, 36% and 32% declines, respectively, from the previous year.