Japan - Korea

Chronology from Jan 2003 to Mar 2003

: Japan launches the first two of four imagery satellites despite heavy criticism from Pyongyang, which threatens to abrogate its moratorium on ballistic missile tests. The electro-optical (EO) satellite has a resolution of 1 meter, and the radar satellite has a 4-meter resolution.

: In an interview with the South Korean daily JoongAng Ilbo, JDA head Ishiba stressed Japan has no intention of procuring nuclear weapons, even if North Korea becomes a nuclear power. Ishiba points out that Japan could be a prime target for DPRK ballistic missiles.

: Japanese Supreme Court rules the Japanese government is not obligated to compensate “comfort women” forced into sexual slavery during World War II, arguing that the Diet alone has authority to authorize such compensation.

: Citing the threat posed by North Korea, Tokyo Gov. Ishihara Shintaro calls for Japan to rearm to protect itself.  Moreover, he advocates cutting aid to the North and calls for “revenge” against the DPRK’s kidnapping of Japanese citizens.

: South Korea and Japan voice support for coalition forces in the war against Saddam Hussein.

: Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Fukuda Yasuo warns that North Korean provocations might cause Tokyo to abandon the Pyongyang Declaration. The September 2002 bilateral agreement sought DPRK compliance with nonproliferation agreements and normalization of relations between Japan and North Korea.

: Spokesman for President Roh announces that Cho Se-hyung, the current ambassador to Japan, will be replaced.

: Japanese officials downplay launch; Pyongyang had warned Tokyo of the launch several days before.

: North Korea launches second antiship cruise missile into the Sea of Japan.

: PM Koizumi urges calm after North Korea restarts the 5 MW(e) nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.

: Roh Moo-hyun is sworn in as the ninth president of Korea, with PM Koizumi and Secretary of State Colin Powell in attendance.

: North Korea launches an improved Silkworm antiship missile toward Japan.  The cruise missile traveled approximately 90 km before crashing into the Sea of Japan/East Sea.  Japanese officials downplayed the event, stating that the launch of the short-range missile did not violate North Korea’s pledged moratorium on missile tests.

: Japan Defense Agency head Ishiba Shigeru said Tokyo would use military force as “a self-defense measure” if it was sure North Korea planned to launch missiles against Japan.

: In an interview with the Choson Ilbo, Ambassador Takano affirms importance of strong Japanese-Korean relations in order to deal with North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

: President of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan Kan Naoto and Social Democratic Party leader Doi Takako meet in Seoul with President-elect Roh. The visit was intended to warm relations following PM Koizumi’s Yasukuni Shrine visit.

: A Japanese environmental group urge the South Korean government to halt development of a wetlands area in North Jolla Province. “Because of its bio-diversity, Saemanguem is important not only in Asia, but also in the world, providing a habitat for migrant birds between Korea and Japan,” the coalition group said.

: Japanese LDP lawmakers initiate legislation to ban port visits by vessels engaged in espionage. In particular, the bill targets the Mangyongbong-92 passenger and cargo ship. A Diet vote is expected in June.

: Special envoy Chyung, senior policy adviser to President-elect Roh, holds talks with PM Koizumi on the North Korea nuclear issue.

: Controversy erupts over the French Ministry of Defense’s use of the term “East Sea” in addition to “Sea of Japan” to describe the sea between Japan and South Korea in its most recent nautical charts.

: Chyung Dai-chul heads delegation to Japan, as an envoy of President-elect Roh to discuss North Korean nuclear crisis.

: Takano Toshiyuki replaces Terada Terusuke as Japan’s ambassador to Seoul. Takano assisted in drafting the 1997 U.S.-Japan Defense Guidelines that called for greater Japanese involvement in the event of a contingency on the Korean Peninsula.

: FM Kawaguchi and U.S. Under Secretary of State John Bolton meet in Tokyo to discuss a unified response to the nuclear crisis.

: FM Kawaguchi visits Seoul, meets with President Kim and President-elect Roh.  ROK Foreign Minister Choi expresses deep regret over the shrine visit.

: Japanese protesters meet the North Korean Mangyongbong-92 ferry at the port of Niigata, holding up a banner saying, “Give us back the families of the five,” referring to the five Japanese abducted by North Korea. Members of the pro-DPRK General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongnyon) argued with the protesters.

: PM Koizumi makes a third controversial visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, honoring Japan’s war dead. While he claims the act served to “reaffirm our antiwar position,” reaction in Korea is predictably negative.

: Japanese Sports Minister Toyama Atsuko repeatedly uses a derogatory colonial-era abbreviation for North Korea (“hoku-sen”). The gaffe came as she welcomed the North’s notification it would send a delegation to the upcoming Winter Asian Games in Aomori Prefecture.  She later issued a correction.

: Former Japanese PM Mori Yoshiro travels to Seoul and meets with ROK President Kim Dae-jung.  Mori also meets with President elect Roh, and the two reaffirm the need for their countries and the U.S. to cooperate in dealing with North Korea.

: Japanese Vice FM Takeuchi and an envoy from Kim Dae-jung, Yim Sung-joon, meet in Tokyo to discuss the DPRK’s withdrawal from the NPT.

: North Korea formally withdraws from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and ends its nuclear safeguards agreement with the IAEA in order “to protect the sovereignty of the country and the nation.”

: Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group (TCOG) meets in Washington, D.C. The U.S., Japan, and ROK focus on the escalating nuclear crisis in North Korea and endorse an IAEA resolution mandating “serious consequences, not unlike Iraq,” if North Korea continues to pursue nuclear weapons.

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