April 19, 2024

Tokyo’s expected contingency on North Korea

Recent Chongryon raid reflects shift in Abe administration’s position

On March 26, a combined force of four prefectural police agencies in Japan raided the Tokyo home of the chairman Ho Jong Man of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryon. It was the first time that police had entered the residence of Japan’s de facto ambassador from North Korea. The charge was that Chongryon, and hence Ho himself, are involved in the illegal importation of matsutake mushrooms from North Korea.

Does the alleged illegal trading of some mushrooms warrant a police raid into the residence of a quasi-ambassadorial figure? This natural question prompts us to ponder what is really going on between Tokyo and Pyongyang, particularly in relation to the submission of a report on the re-investigation into the Japanese abductees, which is due in July. Why has the Abe government taken such a bold move that is bound to give Pyongyang the excuse to refuse the report submission in a timely and meaningful manner? It seems that there are two lines of reasoning for the unconvincing offensive of the Abe government.

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