NAPSNet Daily Report 4 October, 2007
Contents in this Issue:
- I. NAPSNet
- 1. Inter-Korean Summit
- 2. Six Party Talks
- 3. DPRK-Japan Relations
- 4. DPRK Leadership
- 5. Japan SDF Indian Ocean Mission
- 6. Japan Government
- 7. PRC Party Congress
- II. Republic of Korea
1. Inter-Korean Summit
Financial Times (Anna Fifield , “KOREAS PAVE WAY FOR FORMAL PEACE PACT”, 2007/10/04) reported that the leaders of the DPRK and the ROK signed a broad agreement paving the way for a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War and for increased economic co-operation between the erstwhile foes. The two leaders agreed to: call for a three- or four-party summit on a permanent peace treaty on the Korean Peninsula, expand cross-border investments and economic co-operation projects, frequently hold summit talks to discuss pending issues, agree on joint efforts to support six-party talks on the North’s denuclearisation, hold inter-Korea defense ministerial talks in November to discuss peace in the West Sea, construct a joint shipbuilding complex in Nampo, near Pyongyang.
Agence France-Presse (“TWO KOREAS MOVE TO EASE MILITARY TENSION “, 2007/10/04) reported that after half a century of hostility, North and South Korea moved today to ease tension along their closely guarded land and sea borders. A “peace zone” is to be created in the area around the disputed western sea border known as the Northern Limit Line (NLL), scene of bloody naval clashes in 1999 and 2002. ROK President Roh Moo-Hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il said they would set up a joint fishing area to avoid clashes, and allow civilian ships to travel freely in the volatile area in the Yellow Sea. The peace zone will encompass the DPRK’s southwestern port of Haeju, also home to one of its navy commands.
Joongang Ilbo (“SUMMIT REACTIONS FALL ALONG POLITICAL LINES”, 2007/10/04) reported that the news that the ROK and DPRK are committed to establishing a peace regime on the peninsula and finally ending the Korean War, lent an air of relief and cautious optimism to an inter-Korean summit that seemed fraught with uncertainty just a week ago. Taking place just two months before a presidential election in which Roh’s liberal allies are trailing badly, reactions to the summit agreement also fell along predictable political lines. Liberals hailed the meeting, calling it a “historic turnaround” in relations between the two countries. Conservatives, who largely opposed holding the summit and saw it as a political stunt by Roh, were more downbeat in their assessment. Lee Myung-bak, the Grand National Party candidate who is dominating the polls so far in the race for president, said Seoul dropped the ball on human rights and the nuclear issue.
2. Six Party Talks
Joongang Ilbo (“U.S. TAKING STEPS TO GET NORTH OFF ITS TERROR LIST”, 2007/10/04) reported that Washington has endorsed the agreement on denuclearization announced by Beijing, while saying that the Bush administration will begin discussions about getting the DPRK off its list of state sponsors of terrorism, a first step toward normalization of relations. Christopher Hill, Washington’s chief representative to the six-party talks, said Washington would now consult with the U.S. Congress on getting Pyongyang off the terror list. Asked whether Tokyo was in sync with Washington on the issue, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack hinted that Washington would chart its own course. “It’s a matter of some sensitivity in Japan, obviously. And we are going to be in close contact with the Japanese. Ultimately, this is a decision that resides with the United States. It’s U.S. law, the application of United States law.”
3. DPRK-Japan Relations
Kyodo News (“LDP OKS 6-MONTH EXTENSION OF SANCTIONS ON N. KOREA “, Tokyo, 2007/10/04) reported that the governing Liberal Democratic Party endorsed a government policy of extending part of Japan’s sanctions on the DPRK for another six months from Oct. 14, citing the lack of a breakthrough on the issues of the DPRK’s nuclear ambitions and its abductions of Japanese nationals. The Cabinet is expected to formalize the extension Tuesday, government officials said. Tsuyoshi Takagi, who heads the LDP’s Foreign Affairs Division, said at the meeting, ”Despite some progress on the North Korean nuclear issue, there is none on the abduction issue.”
4. DPRK Leadership
The Associated Press (“N.KOREA’S KIM DENIES HEALTH PROBLEMS “, Seoul, 2007/10/04) reported that DPRK leader Kim Jong Il denied that he has any problems with his health, dismissing media reports that claimed the reclusive leader was suffering from a range of ailments. “South Korean media reported that I have diabetes and even heart disease, but the fact is that is not the case at all,” Kim said. Kim acknowledged that foreign doctors had visited the country. “We just brought in people to let them study (heart disease) as our studies of heart problems are a little bit weak,” Kim said. “They are erroneous reports. It seems they are novelists, not reporters.”
5. Japan SDF Indian Ocean Mission
Kyodo (“U.S. VESSELS GET 80% OF FUEL FROM JAPAN SHIPS IN INDIAN OCEAN “, Tokyo, 2007/10/04) reported that the US has been by far the largest beneficiary of Japan’s contentious refueling mission in the Indian Ocean, receiving nearly 80 percent of the fuel supplied between December 2001 and August this year, a Japanese government document showed. According to the document’s breakdown of fuel and water supplied during the period by country and year and the cost, 385,000 kiloliters of the 484,000 kl fuel provided to 11 countries was for U.S. vessels.
6. Japan Government
Dow Jones (“JAPAN PRIME MIN REJECTS CALLS FOR HOUSE ELECTIONS – KYODO”, Tokyo, 2007/10/04) reported that new Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda rejected calls for a snap election for the House of Representatives from the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, Kyodo News reported. “What is now expected from politics is not to talk about a dissolution, but to face seriously the public distrust (of politics) and to deal carefully with the public’s concerns,” the 71-year-old prime minister said as he rejected the demand of DPJ Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama at the lower house plenary session.
The Asahi Shimbun (“MINSHUTO HINTS AT CENSURE AGAINST LDP”, 2007/10/04) reported that with Diet debate shifting to the Upper House on Thursday, opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) offered a timely reminder to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda of the new political reality he must now face. “We can submit and pass in the Upper House a censure motion against the prime minister at any time,” Azuma Koshiishi, head of Minshuto’s Upper House caucus, told Fukuda. “If legislation passed by the opposition in the Upper House is sent to the Lower House and is defeated, that would be an outrage that ignored the public will,” Koshiishi said.
7. PRC Party Congress
The New York Times (“CHINA’S LEADERS DEADLOCKED OVER SUCCESSION”, Beijing, 2007/10/04) reported that just days away from a major leadership reshuffle, the PRC’s Communist Party bosses remain deadlocked over who should sit on the ruling Politburo Standing Committee and who should be anointed to succeed President Hu Jintao as the PRC’s No. 1 leader five years from now, party officials and political observers say. The uncertainty has contributed to a tense political climate in Beijing, where worries about economic overheating and talk of military action to keep Taiwan from moving toward legal independence have complicated the ruling party’s already delicate internal succession process.
II. Republic of Korea
8. Need to ‘Normalize’ Summit
Chosun Ilbo (“NEED NORMALIZATION OF INTER-KOREAN SUMMIT”, 2007/10/04) wrote in an editorial that the normalization of the summit is as important as regularizing it. The first inter-Korean summit in 2000 started abnormally, with illegal remittances to the DPRK and the sudden delay of the summit. It is hard to see this second inter-Korean summit as normal. The DPRK’s side postponed the summit again and even asked President Roh to stay in Pyongyang one more day during the meeting. DPRK leader Kim Jong-il should have visited to ROK this time, which is the custom of diplomatic relations and the particulars he agreed to in the first inter-Korean summit.
9. Unpredictable Kim Jong-Il
Hankyoreh (“KIM JONG-IL STILL DOES THE UNEXPECTED”, Seoul, 2007/10/04) wrote that the appearance of the DPRK’s leader in the welcoming ceremony place was expected to some extent, so it is hard to call that a “surprise” from Kim Jong-il. However, that he unexpectedly arrived half an hour earlier than the promised time and suddenly asked for the extension of the summit period, shows we cannot completely do away with the label of “unpredictable”, although he is more predictable than at the time of the first inter-Korean summit.
10. Change in DPRK Attitude
Yonhap (“KIM JONG-IL MADE ‘GREAT DETERMINATION'”, Seoul, 2007/10/04)
wrote that, based on the agreements of the six-party talks and inter-Korean summit, people guess that Kim Jong-il has greatly changed his mind. Almost all points of the October 4 declarization are what the ROK has prepared for this summit. Even in the six-party talks held last week in Beijing, the DPRK showed similar behavior in easily agreeing with others’ demends. It can be analyzed that Kim Jong-il has begun to act positively in order to draw the international environment into a better directions for him. In fact, this second inter-Korean summit was started on his decision. Some experts argue that he is trying to normalize US-DPRK relations through the six-party talks and improve inter-Korean relations through this summit so that the DPRK can create a favorable international atmosphere toward itself.