[EDITORIALS]Neighbors and issuesThe heads of foreign affairs and security for the United States and Japan held their "two-plus-two" ministers meeting in Washington on Monday. At the talks, serious issues such as the campaign against Iraq and the North Korean nuclear threat were discussed. After the talks, a joint statement was released followed by a news briefing.
Tokyo and Washington made clear their stances on the North's nuclear threat and their plans to handle it. The U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell reiterated that the United States has no intention to attack North Korea. He repeated that the United States will not enter a dialogue with North Korea unless Pyeongyang reverses its decision to reactivate a mothballed nuclear reactor and gives up its uranium enrichment program.
The Japanese and U.S. ministers emphasized a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue, and yet warned that "North Korea's use of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, would have the gravest consequences."
We have stressed repeatedly that policy coordination and coalition among South Korea, Japan and the United States are vital. Thus, the outcome of these talks between the United States and Japan are an important standard to refer to in resolving the nuclear issue. Japan and the United States made clear that they will no longer be dragged around by the North's strategy of creating a crisis on the peninsula to earn the international community's tolerance.
Because there is such intense pressure on the North from the international community, Tokyo's argument about continuing normalization talks with the North will unlikely work. Also, some Americans argue that Washington should reopen talks with Pyeongyang, but that won't work either.
North Korea has been obsessed with talking to the United States and even used the threat of reactivating a dormant nuclear reactor to start those talks. South Korea has been engaged in useless security debates as the presidential election approached. Following such behavior, both Koreas must consider carefully the future of the peninsula.
Japan, in response to the U.S. demands to contribute to international peace and security, deployed the ship Aegis to the Indian Ocean. Tokyo also said it will review a plan to further develop its missile defense program, beyond the research stage.
While reinforcing an alliance between the United States and Japan is widely accepted in Japan, anti-American sentiments in South Korea have become an obstacle for holding reasonable security discussions. Those sentiments have cast a large shadow over the future of the U.S.-South Korea alliance.
Today's election will take place while the two Koreas' peace and well-being are steered by neighboring nations, not by Koreans themselves.