TOKYO -- A Japanese steering group member of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning NGO, The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), sees the two Koreas' April 27 vow to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula as a highly positive step.
"Denuclearization has been reaffirmed, and in the context of an end to the Korean War. This is an extremely significant development and is greatly appreciated," says Akira Kawasaki. The ICAN member adds that the fact that the war has not officially come to an end has been the rationale behind North Korea's nuclear development program.
"Looking back at history, the end of the Cold War between the East and West resulted in a more than 50 percent drop in nuclear weapons. By ending the cold war between North and South Korea, the logic behind requiring nuclear weapons is lost, and it becomes easier to justify a program of denuclearization," he says.
As for the logistics of denuclearization, Kawasaki states, "It will apparently take place gradually. However, it's essential that the situation is monitored properly to confirm reliability."
However, Hiroshi Kato of the NGO Life Funds for North Korean Refugees is skeptical, saying, "North Korea has made numerous U-turns in the past. It's still too early to say whether progress has been made."
Kato also points out that the situation in North Korea is extremely desperate. "North Koreans say things like, 'We see no difference between life and death, to the point that we actually want a nuclear war,'" he says, adding, "I want to keep a close eye on how things unfold."
(Japanese original by Asako Takeuchi and Tomoyuki Hori, City News Department)