Japanese officials seek North Korean dialogue in Ulaanbaatar security summit

Japanese officials seek North Korean dialogue in Ulaanbaatar security summit

Japanese and North Korean foreign ministry officials will meet today in Mongolia on the sidelines of the Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on

japan north korea ulaanbat

Photo: Kyodo

Japanese and North Korean foreign ministry officials will meet today in Mongolia on the sidelines of the Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Northeast Asian Security.

Japan and North Korea have never formally established diplomatic relations. Tokyo has refused to establish relations due to claims that the North Korean government abducted Japanese citizens between 1977 and 1983 and that North Korea’s nuclear program poses a significant threat to Japan’s security.

Due to the current collapse of American diplomatic efforts with North Korea and growing tensions between China and the US over trade, Japan continues to see North Korea as a threat. Last month the rogue country tested short-range ballistic missiles, an indicator of an emboldened Pyongyang.

Japan’s most recent response to the threat of North Korea has been largely diplomatic. Japan is now taking a larger role in negotiations with the country, both working with China and garnering US support for a potential Kim-Abe summit.

If the Japanese delegation can secure a meeting with Mr Kim today—something that appears possible, given that Tokyo has dropped all conditions for talks with Pyongyang—North Korean engagement would take a major step forward.

A resumption of multilateral talks such as the now-defunct Six Party Talks, which ended in 2009, is a possibility over the longer-term. Today’s meetings could serve as a starting point for such an outcome, as Japan seeks the protection of US backing and international consensus.

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