People walk past a street monitor showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Tokyo. Photo: REUTERS file
politics

Japan replaces U.S. as N Korea's most vilified imperialist enemy

37 Comments
By Josh Smith

In North Korea, Japan appears to have replaced the United States as the most vilified imperialist enemy, with state media deriding Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government as a "cult" bent on derailing Pyongyang's diplomatic outreach.

North Korea's blistering broadsides against Japan are nothing new, given its position as a hated former colonial power and a key player in international efforts to punish Pyongyang with sanctions over its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

But Pyongyang's continued jabs at Tokyo contrast a recent easing in explicit criticism of the historically "imperialist aggressor", the United States.

North Korea spent most of last year calling U.S. President Donald Trump names such as a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard" and"loser", and has begun to complain again about Washington's insistence on denuclearisation.

But since Trump's June summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s top state-run newspaper has praised the U.S. president's "will and decision" to have the "historic" meeting. Many pieces of anti-American propaganda have also disappeared from Pyongyang's streets.

Abe has earned no such love.

The same state newspaper recently called the Japanese prime minister a "kingpin of corruption … and a crooked politician" who has "done only evil deeds since he took power".

Japan has been skeptical of North Korea’s diplomatic charm offensive, which has led to summits with Trump, as well as leaders of South Korea and China.

Trump hailed the summit in Singapore as a success and even went as far as to declare the nuclear threat from North Korea over, but Pyongyang has given no indication it is willing abandon its arsenal unilaterally.

Tokyo is also pushing hard to resolve the sensitive issue of Japanese abducted by North Korea. North Korea admitted in 2002 it had kidnapped 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s to train as spies, and five of them returned to Japan. Tokyo suspects that hundreds more may have been taken.

Abe's government has floated the idea of a meeting with Kim to discuss abductions and other issues but seems to have made little progress.

Japan's "isolation" amid the engagement with Pyongyang has been a central theme in North Korean state media, which has derided Japan as an "old phonograph record" spouting "gibberish" and repeatedly ridiculed Tokyo’s "disgrace and shame" at being left on the sidelines of diplomatic efforts.

"It seems Japan is indifferent to the world's advice to keep up its policy with the changed situation and the changed trend," said one commentary released by the KCNA news agency earlier this month.

"It is ridiculous that Japan still trumpets about time-worn'threat' at a time when a new era of peace settles on the Korean peninsula and in the region," another KCNA dispatch said at the end of July. "Japan would be well advised to think of a way to join in the trend of the times."

After speaking with Trump by phone on Aug 22, Abe said Tokyo and Washington are in "complete agreement regarding the policy of realizing complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula," and said he raised the abductees as the issue "most important of all."

KCNA has called Japan's focus on the abduction issue, denuclearisation, and continued sanctions "clear proof of Japan's strong attachment to the moves to harass peace... out of an intention to tarnish the positive atmosphere on the Korean peninsula."

Japan is unlikely to avoid North Korean ire any time soon, analysts say.

The repeated salvos of rhetoric highlight North Korea’s continued need for an enemy to target, as well as possible hopes to push Tokyo into providing cash as part of economic incentives to get North Korea to limit its weapons programme, said Alexis Dudden, a Korea and Japan expert at the University of Connecticut.

Abe's hardline stance and cool relations with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, as well as Japan's occupation of the Korean peninsula as a colonial power makes Japan a "soft target" for Pyongyang that is unlikely to upset many in South Korea, Dudden said. Japan ruled Korea for 35 years ending with its defeat in World War II.

"By keeping Japanese colonial era atrocities in play, North Korea is able to be 'Korean' together with South Korea at a time that their separate ongoing negotiations require a common baseline," she said.

"Continuing to 'hate' America - long the major focus - would be out of step because President Moon has made clear that he is working together with the United States in his efforts."

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

37 Comments
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We all knew this was coming..... if and when the North and South fully reconcile you know they'll focus their fear mongering and hate more towards Japan.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

And Kim continues to prove how much of a joke he is. If he doesn't have an enemy, I guess he can't justify all the money he spends on his weapon's programs instead of feeding his people.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Well they got one thing right, Abe is the king of corruption.

8 ( +16 / -8 )

This will continue...until Japan agrees to pay. As for Reuters calling Japan a "key player in international efforts to punish Pyongyang with sanctions over its pursuit of nuclear weapons" it's not any more or less a player than anyone else.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

More bellicose noise from the north, more sound and fury signifying nothing except the need for attention.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Keep up the good work Japan, it appears, at least from this news report, you are doing the right thing. Anything NK pumps out is 100% Grade A blue ribbon propaganda which, if you could somehow materialise it, would make fantastic fertiliser!

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Going to be hard for Abe to keep on promising the impossible for political points. Poor Yokotas.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

I am upset about this. It's not fair that USA can have big Summit with Kim-san in Singapore, and beginning good relation with the new North Korea. PM And wanted a Summit too, and if went well, Japanese government would spend money on NK infrastructure and have good relation. But Kim refused Summit with PM Abe. It is regrettable. NK may miss out on big Japanese government spending.

Excuse me? Japan has nothing to offer to NK that it can't get elsewhere and not have to deal with the pimp ABe in the process.

And please it isn't Japanese government money...it's our tax money.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Many pieces of anti-American propaganda have also disappeared from Pyongyang's streets.

Gee. Then Kim must truly love the US. I’m waiting for his announcement that NK and the US have ALWAYS been friends and have never warred.

“News” is manipulation.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japan knows the sort of people in control of NK. Don't forget that and keep pushing for a multi-party, republic, with freedom of speech, travel, association, and expression. And a time limit for any leader.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The diplomatic nuclear files is sensitive to hell. We all said : "go slow" or "don't push hard" or "let the people learn to exchange" or "let's set economic basic firth" or "let North adapt and understand we come in peace"...

And Japan don't listen. 

Everyone understand japan people heart, but they are not alone in the world. We all want to help north corea to join the world back. Corea have prooved to everyone she is a bright and intelligent country. We understand the past fears that need proof on our side too.

This sounds like how the French dealed with Nazi Germany :)

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Nothing has changed except South Korea becoming more trusting and the US becoming less interested. Japan is not well liked by either Korea, and isn’t that fond of either Korea, though they have a better connection with the South. Improving relations would require different leaders in all countries, and maybe a new generation. I hope we make it that far.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If one must be #1 at something, one could't do much worse than this.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Congratulations Japan!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Time to rewrite the history books again and rate the enemies. George Orwell really nailed it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Very predictable. It was a mistake for Abe to say about his readiness for direct talks with North Korea, even worse was the information several days ago that Japan is considering to start talks on providing economic aid before the issue of abductions is resolved. Kim is clever and he saw an opportunity to milk Japan. The best strategy for Japan is not to take any initiatives, not to react to outburst of NK's rhetoric. Be calm, be vigilant and do not offer anything. Just wait till NK shows it really ready for substabtial negotiations without "give us money first" nonsense.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan replaces U.S. as N Korea's most vilified imperialist enemy

Maybe they will be resuming their nuclear threats and missile flights over Japan as part of their 70th anniversary celebration of DPRK founding on September 9?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The same state newspaper recently called the Japanese prime minister a "kingpin of corruption … and a crooked politician"

A kingpin? No he isn't, and neither is Japan. The independent organisation transparency.org does an annual audit of corruption and in 2016, Japan was ranked 20th out of 176 countries for corruption, where the higher the ranking the less corrupt you are. That was by far the best performance in the Asia-Pacific region. South Korea was ranked 52, North Korea 174/176. Of course there is corruption in Japan, and maybe Abe has something to answer for. But I'm amazed that people would just agree with Kim Jong-un on this.

As far Abe's offences against North Korea are concerned, they seem pretty mild in contrast to the belligerent rhetoric habitually engaged in by Kim and the launching of missiles over Japan's territory.

Or have we forgotten that already, as Kim appears to want us to?

www.transparency.org/corruption/ranking

0 ( +5 / -5 )

The reason I always think this Abe policy never goes well with any country, he is here and there and what for? I can make a list to what come to be the priorities than actions that doesn't combine international affair, especially with N.K. . even that I know this new regime of KJU didn't change so much the past father and grandfather, NK going to do something with S.K. is a morning coffee to their side. Abe is a good "bait" to KJU use his tactics against Japan with S.K. and China. How much from taxpayers he has to spend a good and face to public, fix the abductees, pay more money where KJU doesn't trust any credit...C'mon Mr. Abe, you need a right person to be a secretary and some brains to think instead of you and next you state the place you want, your LDP party, press, opposed parties, with Trump, Moon Jae-in, KJU whatever! Is he going brainless with a right agenda with priorities?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Does NK have a top ten ranking for hated nations? lol. How does one raise or lower in rank? Are there imaginary or simulated March Madness tournament brackets? Or are there darts thrown on a wall? I wonder when the movie Ten Things I hate about Japan will come out in theaters over there.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If Japan can have good relationships with China and SK, there should be a solution with NK. 

Politcians hate each other. People need to stop following the media like sheep and act like entire populations hate each other.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The relationship among China-Koreas-Japan is always a relationship of parents and children, wives and husbands, sisters and brothers.

I suppose you mean there’s a shared cultural heritage. I think a “close friendship” would be preferable given marital, fraternal and sibling quarrels we’ve witnessed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Original Wing:

I'm amazed that you use "but other countries are worse" to discount wrongdoings.

"Discount wrongdoings"? Hardly. From my first post - Of course there is corruption in Japan, and maybe Abe has something to answer for.

I'm aware of the accusations against Abe, and of the past instances of corruption among Japanese elected leaders. But what we have here is the leader of the country ranked the third-most corrupt in the world (the DPRK) lecturing about corruption to the leader of the most stable, peaceful and least corrupt nation in the region (Japan), ranked 156 places above them by an authoritative objective analysis of global corruption. People hanging their dislike of Abe on the back of a statement by the bellicose and dangerous leader of one of the most corrupt countries on the planet is not a good look.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Looks like this article may have jumped the gun reading North Korea's latest comments about the United States right here on JT.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There isn't going to be any "atonement". Simply because South Korea already set an example of what Japan can expect my going that route.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The same state newspaper recently called the Japanese prime minister a "kingpin of corruption … and a crooked politician" who has "done only evil deeds since he took power".

nodding

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

BigYen: Japan was ranked 20th out of 176 countries for corruption, where the higher the ranking the less corrupt you are. That was by far the best performance in the Asia-Pacific region. South Korea was ranked 52, North Korea 174/176. Of course there is corruption in Japan, and maybe Abe has something to answer for. But I'm amazed that people would just agree with Kim Jong-un on this.

I'm amazed that you use "but other countries are worse" to discount wrongdoings.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

from Korea central news agency

No Future for Japan without Atonement for Past: KAPPC

Pyongyang, August 23 (KCNA) -- A spokesman for the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee (KAPPC) issued a statement Wednesday as it has been 108 years since the Japanese gangsters cooked up "Korea-Japan Annexation Treaty", illegal document for invasion, and usurped the sovereignty of Korea.

Had the Japanese invaders not stretched their dark tentacles to Korea, there would not have occurred such a tragedy in which the Korean nation has suffered the misfortune and pain for more than seven decades, being divided into the north and the south, the statement said.

Noting the Japanese reactionaries, however, have now gone more and more impudent, far from apologizing and reflecting on their hideous past crimes, the statement cited facts to prove this.

It went on:

What is all the more intolerable is that the Abe group is adding new crimes to the piles of the hideous past crimes, far from atoning for them.

While shelving their cursed past crimes, the Japanese reactionaries are talking about the "solution of the issue of abductees" as if they are interested in improving the DPRK-Japan relations. This is the height of craftiness.

While keeping mum about the hideous crime that took the lives of millions of the Koreans, they are hyping the issue of a few "abductees". This absurd claim against common sense and appropriateness is just the occult art peculiar to Japanese to transform themselves into "victim" though they are just sinful assailants.

Japan overheated with militarist frenzy has to keenly realize that it can never go to the future, with their crime-woven past left pending.

At a time when the new trend for peace created on the Korean peninsula has massive impact on the world political situation and there witnesses a drastic change in the relations of dynamics in the region, only Japan is being treated like an outcast. This is just disgrace and tragedy invited by itself.

Japan has to clearly understand that without atonement for its past crimes it can never take even one step toward the future. -0-

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

DaDude, mature minded people will not follow the media, but own judgments and independent thinkings. 90% media falsely characterize Japan and China relationship, exaggerate differences. The relationship among China-Koreas-Japan is always a relationship of parents and children, wives and husbands, sisters and brothers.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Northeast Asians need accelerate common standards on history, put things in perspective, listen to each others reasons, recognize circumstances, acknowledge mistakes, and take a broad view of 3000 years flow of people, ideas, cultures, arts, technologies, trades, and happiness and mistakes. The relationship of Northeast Asians can only be characterized by Northeast Asians, not by others.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Matt Hartwell:

North Korea is no different to China and Russia in the sense that they always need to have an external threat to galvanize the population so they don't focus on their dear leader or the party. That's what you do under an authoritarian regime and one party state. Its bog standard tactics.

Oh give it a rest! You could apply this do Abe and Japan.

I think you should concentrate on your own prime minister(s) - revolving door, taking a leaf straight out of Japan's books before Abe forced his ugly self back.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Here’s an approach. The Japanese army seems to excel in making snowmen and playing baseball. Send a snowman and baseball brigade to Pyongyang and woo Lil’ Kim with recreational diplomacy. Seemed to work with Dennis Rodman and the US.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Japan needs more wisdom on NK. If Japan can have good relationships with China and SK, there should be a solution with NK. Northeast Asian should have the wisdom to resolve problems among themselves. Northeast Asian have certain core values that are the starting points.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Wow!!

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

North Korea is no different to China and Russia in the sense that they always need to have an external threat to galvanize the population so they don't focus on their dear leader or the party. That's what you do under an authoritarian regime and one party state. Its bog standard tactics.

Japan needs to rapidly move towards offensive hypersonic conventional missiles and they also need to make it crystal clear that elements of the U.S nuclear deterrent are available to them at any time, like B61 bombs. They should promote the fact.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

I am upset about this. It's not fair that USA can have big Summit with Kim-san in Singapore, and beginning good relation with the new North Korea. PM And wanted a Summit too, and if went well, Japanese government would spend money on NK infrastructure and have good relation. But Kim refused Summit with PM Abe. It is regrettable. NK may miss out on big Japanese government spending.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

THIS IS TRUE, JAPAN IS THE MAIN RISK IN NORTH COREA

(on this side of the wall)

°

The diplomatic nuclear files is sensitive to hell. We all said : "go slow" or "don't push hard" or "let the people learn to exchange" or "let's set economic basic firth" or "let North adapt and understand we come in peace"...

And Japan don't listen.

Everyone understand japan people heart, but they are not alone in the world. We all want to help north corea to join the world back. Corea have prooved to everyone she is a bright and intelligent country. We understand the past fears that need proof on our side too.

If she manage to join back the world, answers will come naturally. There is no need to rush for piece of information we won't be able to trust fully.

For example, I think China was in command or has a hand in the kidnapping problem. We don't want North Corea taking the blame for someone else. Answers at a later time is better for everyone.

°

MMF

-28 ( +0 / -28 )

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