Japan Eyes the North Korean Nuclear Crisis (2006-09)

Mong Cheung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has been the primary security concern for Japan since the mid-1990s. By examining the content of debates revealed in the political, security and intellectual communities in Japan between 2006 and 2009, this article analyses Japan's views on the North Korean nuclear crises. It argues that Japan is still engaged in a vigorous domestic debate on its North Korea policy that centres around three options: constructive engagement, hard hedging with comprehensive engagement, and containment. Tokyo currently adopts a mixed strategy of hedging and engagement to cope with the perceived threat from the North. Domestic emotional pressure, symbolized by the victimized consciousness rooted in the Japanese kidnapping issue and the conservative desire of seeking Japan's autonomy, still significantly constrains Japan's North Korea policy from choosing any moderate option.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-326
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Comparative Asian Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Dec


  • Japan
  • North Korea
  • containment
  • engagement
  • hedging
  • nuclear crisis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations


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