Japan’s “Charlie Brown” Dilemma vis-à-vis the North Korean Nuclear Crisis
Policy Briefs

Japan’s “Charlie Brown” Dilemma vis-à-vis the North Korean Nuclear Crisis

APLN Policy Brief 31

The following is a summary. Click on the adjacent link to download the full brief.

In the 1970s, Japan adopted the NPT as a corner-stone of Japanese nuclear policy together with the ‘three non-nuclear principles’: that Japan does not possess nor manufacture nuclear weapons, and neither shall they ever introduce nuclear weapons to Japan. Despite 25 years of a growing DPRK nuclear and missile threat, public opinion remains firmly against Japan responding by acquiring its own nuclear weapon capability. Yet, at the same time, repeated efforts to find a diplomatic solution have failed. If there is any chance that North Korea would agree to abandon its nuclear weapon program, it would be only when North Korea itself becomes convinced that it was in its own interests to do so. And it will only reach that conclusion if the US and Japan maintain strongest sanctions and a credible defence (including missile defence) and deterrence postures vis-à-vis North Korea. One difficulty here is that there is always a temptation to try again a diplomatic solution to the problem. An analogy often made is that countries face Charlie Brown’s dilemma: while disillusioned many times by the failure of negotiations with North Korea, there is always a temptation to run and kick the ball Lucy is holding. “This time it may be true!”

About the Author

Nobuyasu Abe is a Commissioner of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission. He is a former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs (2003–06) and former Director-General for Arms Control and Science Affairs (1997–99) of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He most recently served as Director of the Center for the Promotion of Disarmament and Non-Proliferation at the Japan Institute of International Affairs.


Image: Icons by Katunger via The Noun Project

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