Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Minor Contrarian Note On The Abductees Obsession

No postings in a time of turmoil and change -- bad, bad, bad. Excuses few have I save the lassitude of the final week of a long, hot August.

I have, however, been thinking about Japan's policy moves as regards the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Japanese government mewling about the fate of those abducted by the DPRK in the 1970s and 80s is probably one of the most frustrating and annoying diplomatic shows on Earth, at least among those put on by the diplomatic corps of the advanced industrialized countries. Japan's representatives performed a lacrimosa on behalf of the abductees and their families yet again this week -- with the twist being that this time it was to an international panel responsible for actually listening to the stories. (Link and Link)

Japan's official obsession with the abductees, rather than generating sympathy, likely has turned opinion against Japan on the issue. The world's diplomats and employees of international organizations must dread Japanese presentations, as morose tales and demands for resolution of the abductees issue clog the agendas and fritter away precious time at every international gathering.

Then again, being annoying might be the whole point of the exercise. Given the way the DPRK regimes operates, which is to give crumbs in returns for huge sums of money, and the price the North Koreans will demand from Japan for any further moves on the abductees issue, given that Japan stiffed the North Koreans in 2004 by both keeping its citizens and their loved ones and halting all moves toward normalization, the next round of action, which will be a last one since freedom of travel for Yokota Megumi's daughter Kim Eun Gyong is the only card the North Koreans have left, will likely come at a price which will give the rest of the world, particularly Japan's ally the United States -- which has just hit another wall as regards to one of its own citizens held in the DPRK (Link) -- serious heartburn.

At which point having annoyed the rest of the world to tears over the abductees will reveal itself as a brilliant strategy rather than an obtuse surrender to trivial domestic political pressures. The rest of the world might gag at Japan's paying off the indefensible DPRK regime in return for what will seem truly risible humanitarian gestures. However, if whatever Pyongyang coughs up gets the Japanese government to shut up once and for all about the abductee issue, the sighs of relief in diplomatic circles will be embarrassingly audible.

Nota bene - Normally I would not link to Karajan. But for a performance featuring Price, Pavarotti and Ghiurov, I will make an exception.

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