Power And Dollar

What Does North Korea’s Six-Party Talk Matter?

North Korea is the next news item after G8.  Six-party talk starts on 07.10.  This is expected to be a minister level meeting.  Therefore, some big items are to be discussed.  Bush needs to accomplish something more than Iraq and Afganistan.  North Korea also wants to cash out something out of a desperate President and then start the next round of talks.  Some results will come out before11.04.  Some real progress can be made in the next Six-Party talk.  What does it matter? 


This will produce a lot of long term effect.  Short terms are logistics and symbolic, such as an agreement, declaration of some sort (peace), exchanging offices, etc.


A minister level meeting is an indication that a conclusion is in sight.  This is not just about sanctions, economic aid or light water reactor.  They are, literally small potatoes, for a minister level meeting.  Will the end of Korean War finally be an agenda item?  Finalizing the border between North and South Koreas? 


If these questions are on the table, then the outcome will give us a sketch of what the unification process for North and South Koreas will be.  If the meeting will not reach to that point, then it would be interesting to see what derails since Japan has no clout in Six-Party talk; South Korea has no position against North Korea; China is generally believed to want a nuclear free Korea peninsula. 


Of course, if all goes well, South Korea can finally convince itself that peace is here.  Fiscal spending can decrease.  The ripple effect will be: what about the military bases?  If they will stay, who pays?  The same question can be asked about the bases in Japan.  What will China’s position be in the middle of all this?


What about the border that defines South Korea and Japan?  If there will be mutual recognition of the two Koreas, they need to agree to each other’s boundary.  What will North Korea’s position on the border dispute between Japan and South Korea?  Will North Korea even drag the WW2 war crime into the agenda too?  How far will and can North Korea stretch Japan?  What is the price to pay to get the Japanese abductees back to Japan?


Or, will the talk turn first to the commercial projects?  Does Russia want more investors at the eastern end of Siberia?  How is that Siberia oil pipeline going?  Will this be a pre-text for some Northeast Asia security mechanism or trust building exercise?  Will this bring up the border dispute between Russia and Japan? 


Any kind of Northeast Asia security mechanism leads to re-balancing the response time of US military.  How will Japan react to that?  Since these border disputes are created by the final days of WW2, will the end of Six – Party talk pull out a long overdue clean-up talk?  That is something Japan wants to avoid badly.



If Okinawan independence movement is an institutionalized movement, then this is the time to plot their moves.  The end of Six – Party inevitably leads to Taiwan Strait, another WW2 antique problem. 


If so, a behind the scene negotiation between China and America is the real determinant.  In that context, North Korea is really the pivot of a lot of things.


July 10, 2008 Posted by | Current Events, Japan, korea, opinion, politics, wordpress-political-blogs, 台灣, 国事, 天下事, 中國 | 2 Comments

What Are The Implications Of A Nuke Free North Korea?


CNN reports the destruction of North Korea’s nuclear facilities.  What are the implications? 

The most directly impacted nation is Japan.  The confrontation pressure in the Korea peninsula is weakened.  The need for US military presence is also weakened.  The economic incentives are there.  But Japan is not Thailand.  Japan can live without that.  The impacts will be political and military for Japan due to a nuke free North Korea. 


With such a hawkish new president of South Korea, it will take quite a few years for the relations between North and South Korea to warm again.  The immediate impact on the unification movement is minimal.  After all, the nuke free decision has nothing to do with unification with the South, from North Korea’s perspective.  For North Korea, warming up with the America is one step toward having a normal diplomatic relationship.  Strengthening this relationship weakens the relationship of America and South Korea.  With any luck, North Korea wants the American bases to move out of the peninsula.  All these impacts realized by North Korea are shorter term.


Impacts on Japan are longer term.  Japan has been having influence in Korea for centuries.  A nuclear North Korea is obvious a threat to the security of Japan.  However, it has always been a common knowledge that nuclear activity is only a bargain chip.  North Korea is perceived to be aware that they cannot keep the nuclear forever, since China does not want North Korea to have it, America does not and certainly Japan does not. 


With a smaller conflict, the weight of Japan will become smaller.  This nuclear free ending of the affair also demonstrates Japan has been unable to influence the outcome of the Korea peninsula affairs, or unable to influence America’s intent in the peninsula affairs. 


An Obama administration will be able justify a reduction of military presence in South Korea and Japan and cut some spending. 


If US military decreases, especially in Okiana, the negativity generated by US military in Okinawa fades.  Therefore, a weaker Okinawan independence movement will be, although it was not that a strong one to start with, more less like the Puerto Rican.   However, with the incentives by US military gone, the incentives for Okinawa to stay in Japan also go away. 


That will create more space for Chinese military in the area.  China will gradually gain its edge against Japan in territory dispute.  However, the dispute is fairly settled since both sides have agreed to mutually develop the area.  Again, this loss of strategic importance against Japan cannot be ignored. 


The fact that Japan is losing control over the development in Korean peninsula is a sign of Japan’s HR risk.  Japan had a hard filling in their chief of central bank earlier this year.  They are unable to keep themselves abreast of the peninsula, let alone influence the outcome.  Only very few international enterprises of Japan are as innovative or as quick as they used to be.  Japan is having a high turn over of politicians and an even short life span of governments.  The ageing population is showing signs of weakness in every area.  


With that, the six party talks now prove to be useless.  Japan is now concluded to be ineffective.  South Korea lost its edge during the negotiation.  Russia has been reduced to an attendant only.  China has become more less the notary public for the talks.  The real talk somehow happened between North Korea and America behind the curtain. 


June 27, 2008 Posted by | China, Current Events, Japan, korea, opinion, politics, Taiwan, wordpress-political-blogs | 1 Comment