North Korea offering the olive branch
With the young Kim Jong Un in charge, changes are starting to take place in North Korea. So far the indicators are quite positive. He is coming on as a livelier and down to earth person, more open and easy going. There is a high and good possibility that the North Koreans would adopt the Chinese model of economic growth by opening up, like Myanmar. They have made trips to China for more talks and fact finding missions.
The latest and most promising sign is to open discussion with Japan, likely to be for aids and economic cooperation. It would be a good opportunity for Japan to open up and engage the North Koreans, extend whatever economic assistance they could to help the North Koreans to become wealthier, seeing more promises and hopes of a better life. A rich and prosperous North Korea is likely to be friendlier and less confrontational and could be an active member of the world community. It is to Japan and the South Korea’s interest to integrate the North Koreans into the world system with economic growth and less military provocations.
Japan could go one step further, as just economic growth is not enough. The centuries of historical debt, particularly of land grabs must be settled as soon as possible. Japan could stand out as the country that is genuine to bury the past by unilaterally announcing the return of all islands taken from its neighbours during its colonial days. Such a gesture will be greatly welcomed by its neighbours, and the world will see Japan in a very positive light. It will also remove forever the torn of nationalism and historical antagonism that could erupt and undermine the good relations built over the years. War is no longer an option today and the earlier the root for future wars be killed and cleared, the better for all the countries in the region. Holding on to war loots is untenable and will need to be addressed and return at some point in time.
Would Japan seize the moment and rise above selfish individual and national pride to ride this new wave of economic cooperation with its neighbours? Or would Japan arrogantly and stubbornly want to hold on to the islands it grabbed from its neighbours and eventually rekindle a bitter war of mutual self destruction? Is it worth clinging onto other people’s islands?