Views from Tokyo: What progress, if any, do you expect to see from a summit between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump?

by Kunio Kanamori

Contributing Writer

Kanon Sudoh
Student, 20, Japanese

I don’t imagine things will be settled soon by these talks. The U.S. military is stationed in Japan, costs too much and its existence looms large over the region, and there’s no easy way to see them move out. I expect the rate of missile development and tests by the North to drop, as the U.S. will keep them in check. It’d be good if an improvement in U.S.-North Korea relations has a knock-on effect on Japan-North Korea ties. As for giving up nuclear weapons, if it was so easy, the U.S. would have already abandoned them. Countries will hold on to them for a while yet.

Zhong Yuan
Student, 22, Chinese

I don’t expect much from Kim Jong Un at this meeting. Normally, his top priority is to protect the nation. There’s no denying that any foreign aid to the North goes toward the development of nuclear weapons. This is probably why there has been such a peaceful atmosphere since the new year and the Pyeongchang Olympics. I can’t imagine that he’ll easily give up his nuclear weapons and abandon development. I think that the dialogue will progress little by little. I don’t think the abduction issue will be resolved because this is a dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea.

Mai Ishikawa
Student, 18, Japanese

I hope that a peaceful resolution will be reached after talks that go smoothly without problems. The future of the North Korean regime under Kim Jong Un will depend on how U.S. President Donald Trump negotiates. I wish the North Korean administration would change and become more capitalist. I don’t think nuclear weapons will disappear completely. As for the issue of past abductions of Japanese citizens to North Korea, Japan-U.S. relations are close, so the United States should ensure the Japanese victims are returned.

Kyoshiro Tasaka
Student, 20, Japanese

Now that the U.S. is isolating itself from the world, even if the U.S. negotiates with North Korea, its influence is smaller than before. Even if the U.S. puts pressure on it, will Europe agree with that? It would be more helpful if the U.S. abandoned nuclear weapons. Because the U.S. will not do so itself, neither will other countries. The Diet here is embroiled in the Mori-Kake mondai (the Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Gakuen political scandals). The abduction issue is not taken up much in the news recently. I do not know whether the country is serious about it.

Kim Duyoung
Salesperson, 37, South Korean

North Korea won’t easily start a war. I’m not afraid because everyone is conscious of what’s at stake. The present situation is not only bilateral but involves various countries. Regarding South Korean victims of abduction to the North, I hope the discussions will go well. Unification of the Korean Peninsula will not happen for a while. There are both advantages and disadvantages of unification: The area becomes larger, the population increases, and so does the labor force. But the disparity between people in the North and South would be extremely wide.

Jonathan Wood
Veterinarian, 34, American

I think it’s exciting in a way. Anytime anyone gives up nuclear weapons, it’s a good thing. I also think some of the sanctions have not done much to help the people of North Korea. It sounds like they don’t live in a very good situation. Maybe we can find some way that North Korea won’t use its missiles and America would agree to help them a little bit. As for denuclearization, as I come from a nation with nuclear weapons, I understand why people want them. It’s hard to say that one country, yes, you can have nuclear weapons, but another country, no, you can’t. Who gets to say that?

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