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PacNet #47 – The Abductee Issue is a Test of America’s Strategic Credibility

The usual narrative on Japan’s role in the Six-Party Talks these days goes something like this:

On Feb. 13, 2007 the Six-Party Talks yielded a new framework with North Korea that marks the first concrete progress on rolling back North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. However, the Abe government was an obstacle because of its excessive focus on the fate of the abducted Japanese citizens still unaccounted for in North Korea. Because Abe built his nationalist credentials on this highly emotional issue, the Japanese government was able to demonstrate little flexibility and became isolated in the six-party process. The new prime minister, Fukuda Yasuo, has none of that ideological inflexibility and hopefully will understand that Japan has to prioritize denuclearization over the abductee issue or face isolation in the talks and condemnation for letting a narrow domestic issue obstruct real progress on the Korean Peninsula.