Japan and multilateralism in the North Korean nuclear crisis: road map or dead end?
Since 2003, multilateral approaches to addressing the North Korean security issue have increasingly come to the fore. The most notable of these approaches has been the Six-Party Talks process. Hosted by China, it was first launched in August 2003, with further rounds held in February and June 2004, in July to September 2005, and with the fifth and latest round, as of the time of writing, in November 2005. The talks have involved the participation of the USA, Japan, China, Russia, and South and North Korea. They experienced an initial setback with Pyongyang’s announcement in February 2005 of the indefinite suspension of its participation in the talks.1 Nevertheless, US policy makers in particular, but also to varying degrees the policy makers of the other states involved, have remained committed to the Six-Party Talks and other multilateral approaches to dealing with North Korea’s nuclear programmes and additional related security concerns. Japan for one has worked hard to back the US efforts to push forward the Six-Party Talks process, even though it has been constrained to some extent in its active participation by domestic pressures over the issue of the abduction of Japanese citizens (rachi jiken).