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Is Pyongyang slicing the salami too thin?

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The second U.S.-North Korea summit meeting in Hanoi was a fiasco and provided no relief for Japan. During U.S. President Donald Trump’s trip to Vietnam, his former attorney Michael Cohen testified in Congress, calling the president as a racist, a con man and a cheat. Pyongyang sliced salami too thin for Trump to taste it. Pundits in Tokyo still wonder why this happened.

As a former Japanese diplomat, I have been marveling why many writers or experts in Tokyo were quoted as saying “No deal is better than a bad deal” or “Japan is quietly celebrating the collapse of the Hanoi summit deal.” Woo, they don’t seem to get it. Personally I don’t give a damn about such short-sighted shallow analyses.

When it comes to U.S.-North Korea summit meetings, we need cold-eyed, historical, strategic and objective analyses. After the demise of the Soviet Union, going nuclear was the Kim dynasty’s choice for survival. No matter how you define “complete denuclearization,” it would be their last resort — not their first offer in any negotiations.

The Korean Peninsula has a sad history of subordination. “Juche,” a notorious ideology that implies the Koreans must be the master of their destiny, was a natural conclusion for Korean nationalists. With the rise of China and the United States wandering under Trump, they found a golden opportunity to finally be the master of their own.

U.S.-North Korea negotiations over the past 12 months must have been the best that the North and South Korean leaders could have imagined. The endgame, however, will not be promising, simply because the Koreans do not have enough........

© The Japan Times