More than the outcome of the meeting, the meeting itself holds significance. Donald Trump’s announcement could be understood this way.
U.S. President Trump announced that a meeting with North Korean Workers’ Party Chairman Kim Jong Un will be held as originally scheduled on June 12 in Singapore.
The meeting of the two leaders – a historic first – holds great historical significance for the U.S. and North Korea, who have been hostile towards each other for over half a century, and will drastically shift the relationship between the two countries.
However, President Trump said “I never said it goes in one meeting. I think it’s going to be a process,” admitting that negotiations on denuclearization will take time [https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-meeting-vice-chairman-kim-yong-chol-democratic-peoples-republic-korea/]. He also stated there is no possibility of signing anything during the summit, so the chances of a June 12 comprehensive agreement on denuclearization are less likely.
Based on this, it can be understood that this meeting is just confirmation that we are at the starting line of negotiations. This newspaper worries that these most important and substantial negotiations on denuclearization will become a mere façade.
Although not easing sanctions on North Korea, Mr. Trump made security guarantees and is holding back on additional sanctions and use of the term “maximum pressure.”
The policy shift can be viewed as an acknowledgement of North Korea’s position by leaving space between the two countries regarding the denuclearization process. This newspaper believes it is a very sudden shift.
President Trump’s “easing” gives North Korea great relief since it is looking for a gradual solution based on step-by-step rewards instead of the United States’ desired short-term “complete, verifiable and irreversible” denuclearization.
There’s a possibility that future negotiations will go at North Korea’s pace. The path to denuclearization has become even more murky.
What Mr. Trump mentioned instead of the increasingly murky denuclearization issue is the ending of the Korean War (1950-1953). In April’s summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-In and Mr. Kim, both agreed on moving ahead within the year to end the war and tried working towards this goal with Mr. Trump.
Because the topic of the Korean War came up immediately before the summit, it’s uncertain how much detail can be discussed. Mr. Trump might be trying to play up results of the summit ahead of mid-term elections in the United States.
For Japan, which has to depend on Mr. Trump for working towards the abduction issue, the U.S. policy shift makes its position even more complicated.
If Japan focuses too much on a “maximum pressure” policy, the distance from the United States will grow greater. Japan needs to be flexible while assessing the true meaning of Mr. Trump’s comments.