Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Japan’s North Korea Initiative and U.S.-Japanese Relations

Japan’s North Korea Initiative and U.S.-Japanese Relations

On August 27, 2002, when emissaries from the Bush administration met with Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, each side had a well-guarded secret to reveal. Koizumi informed the Americans that he was about to announce that he would visit Pyongyang in mid-September, creating the first summit between the leaders of Japan and North Korea. In turn, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage announced that the United States possessed evidence that the North was secretly enriching uranium, in violation of its 1994 agreement with the United States, and despite other assurances it had discontinued all nuclear weapons development. It seems unlikely that either was happy to hear the other’s news. Japanese policy makers may have found it hard to grasp that North Korea was so duplicitous; that the United States was so determined to pressure North Korea to abandon its dangerous behavior; and that Japan, as a U.S. ally, had so little leverage to conduct an independent foreign policy.

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