This is interesting. Japan is feeling its oats and appears to want to reassert itself into a more dominate role international diplomacy (and perhaps other areas using other of its elements of national power in addition to economic) and the abduction issue has obvious domestic importance but can also be used an excuse for bilateral direct engagement. But I also think it could be playing into the Kim Family Regime's hands. While a major part of the north's strategy has always been to split the ROK/US Alliance the past 6 months has demonstrated just how strong the Alliance is at this point in time and none of the regime's actions were able to drive a wedge between the two countries. It should also be recognized that the most effective diplomatic and security actions occur when the trilateral relationship is in synch. Since the regime has not been successful in splitting the ROK/US Alliance directly it may believe it can take advantage of rising Japanese aggressiveness in the international community to cause a breakdown in the trilateral relationship and pose a dilemma for the US in trying to manage both the ROK/US and the US/Japanese Alliances. Of course the north may not be that strategically sophisticated at all and instead we all just stumble toward a condition that will benefit the regime and hinder both alliances. I think in the end Japan will get played by the regime, will come away empty handed with the trilateral relationship damaged and the regime again coming out on top.
JAPAN MULLS TALKS WITH NKOREA, SURPRISING ALLIES
May. 22 1:14 AM EDT
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TOKYO (AP) — Japan's government is looking into re-opening official talks with North Korea to resolve questions over the abductions of Japanese citizens decades ago, raising concerns among allies who fear Tokyo's focus on that issue might weaken efforts to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.
Chief Cabinet spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that high-level talks with the North are possible if they would lead to a breakthrough on the abductions. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has indicated he is open to holding a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if such a breakthrough could be made.
Abe dispatched a senior adviser to Pyongyang last week, catching Seoul and Washington off guard. Both said they were not given prior notice.
Washington and North Korea's neighbors have been stepping up their pressure on Pyongyang since it conducted a rocket launch and its third nuclear test earlier this year.
Though Tokyo is also deeply concerned by North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, the abductions have long been at the top of its agenda and are the biggest obstacle to resuming official talks, which have been stalled since last November.
But Glyn Davies, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, warned North Korea might be trying to use talks with Japan to drive a wedge between the policies of Tokyo, Washington and Seoul.
Details of the Japanese envoy's talks in Pyongyang have not been disclosed, but Abe said this week that Japan must take the lead in resolving the abduction issue.
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