US-Japan-North Korean Security Relations: Irrepressible Interests

US-Japan-North Korean Security Relations: Irrepressible Interests

US-Japan-North Korean Security Relations: Irrepressible Interests

US-Japan-North Korean Security Relations: Irrepressible Interests


This book examines the major security and related issues between the United States, Japan and North Korea (officially, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea - DPRK).

Although focusing mainly on current issues, this book also provides sufficient historical background to enable readers to appreciate the many nuances that have been ignored by policymakers, analysts and the media. Where appropriate, the book examines the security interests of other nations in Northeast Asia, specifically South Korea, China and Russia.

The central purpose of the book is to objectively analyze the policymaking processes of Washington, Tokyo and Pyongyang with respect to the DPRK's nuclear weapons and other important security issues, and ultimately to provide practical ways to improve the security environment in Northeast Asia. Ongoing security-related issues include nuclear missile testing by the DPRK; its removal from the U.S. list of states sponsoring terrorism, and the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents that occurred during the 1970s and 1980s. Unlike other books, which typically take the position that North Korea is a rogue state run by an irrational, belligerent and autocratic leader, this book reveals the fundamentals of Pyongyang's security concerns in the region.

This book will be of great interest to students of North East Asian politics, Asian security studies, US foreign policy and Security Studies/IR in general.


In this book I do my best to analyze objectively the policy positions developed in Washington, Tokyo and Pyongyang, and when necessary Seoul, Beijing and Moscow, as they relate to specific security concerns that each of these governments have in Northeast Asia, a region where the Cold War still has not been laid to rest. With respect to security policies developed for this region, it is important to underscore that the political beliefs of policymakers and those determined to influence them are typically driven by ideologies that have been formed and sustained by the hostilities of the Cold War and sometimes even before this period. Thus, the political beliefs and ideologies that have caused tensions to run high, and solutions to problems to be the perennial reliance on military threats and readiness continue to exist. And so Washington and Pyongyang remain bitter adversaries, as do Tokyo and Pyongyang, which has as its staunchest ally Beijing and to a lesser extent Moscow; at the same time, the Korean War is still not over. Far too often then confrontational policies continue to trump reasoned diplomacy and rapprochement.

During the course of my work on this book, I had lengthy discussions in Japan with many individuals, both in and out of government, who hold widely varying political perspectives. I choose to maintain the anonymity of these individuals, some of whom were especially helpful to me. The exception to anonymity is Professor Sachio Nakato, who during my sabbatical in the 2010 spring semester, very kindly arranged for me to spend time at Ritsumeikan University’s Graduate School of International Relations in Kyoto. Accepting an invitation from the Korean Association of Social Scientists in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea afforded me the opportunity to have lengthy discussions with a number of prominent North Koreans during my six-day visit there in January 2009. Several South Korean officials were also helpful to me in one way or another during the time I spent researching and writing this book. To all of these individuals, I extend my warmest thanks and appreciation.

On several occasions, I received research awards from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, United States. This funding was very helpful in that it enabled me to offset the costs of doing research in Japan for this book. In my judgment, this book has been improved because of some of the comments made by its reviewers. Much thanks to Marguerite Hoberg for her painstaking work in preparing the index for this book.

This book is dedicated to those who recognize that nonconfrontational diplomacy, when practiced with diligence, can resolve problems in foreign affairs.

Anthony DiFilippo, January 2011 . . .

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