Kim is buying time; who is selling it?

Sunday, September 26 2004 @ 11:40 PM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto

In the wake of yet another round of fruitless "working-level" talks in Beijing between Japan and North Korea (September 25-26), the Japanese media have further stepped up their rhetoric about Pyongyang's faithlessness and lack of sincerity. Today's Daily Yomiuri, as well as its parent Yomiuri Shimbun, runs an editorial captioned, "North Korea's attitude shows need for sanctions".

But wait. Has the DY not published the same editorial a couple of times before? Hasn't it editorialized before that "North Korea's attitude may force this country to consider implementing economic and other sanctions against the reclusive nation"? I thought we considered implementing economic and other sanctions a long time ago, when the Foreign Exchange Control Law was amended and the "law to enable Japan to ban port calls by designated ships" was enacted.

The recent notion has it that the Japan's major news organizations (the Big 4) are increasingly polarized, in terms of their editorial views, between pro-Beijing/-Pyongyang Asahi and Mainichi and anti-Beijing/-Pyongyang Yomiuri and Sankei. But as a matter of fact this notion is not true. It cannot be true because the Yomiuri Shimbun, for instance, could not take sides on any political issue simply because of their concern about subscription revenues. You've got to be damned "neutral" to have the world's largest circulation that exceeds 10 million.

So it's no wonder the editorialists in the DY have written and rewritten the same old, all too familiar stuff over and over again, with the way of wording it becoming a notch harsher each time.

The editorial argues, under a subhead "Kim trying to buy time", that North Korea's attitude should be dismissed as an attempt to buy time until it gets all of the 250,000 tons of food aid pledged by Koizumi in his summit meeting with Kim on May 22. Just like nothing new came out from the most recent working-level talks, there's absolutely nothing new in this editorial either. What these guys are saying is always so predictable and boring like what Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners does in the Safeco Field.

Obviously there's something that remains to be learned by these editors and editorial staff of Japanese newspapers: We simple-minded businesspeople do know that buying and selling are always back-to-back. In other words, where there is no seller, there's no buyer, and vice versa. For instance, when Saddam Hussein was buying time, Jacques Chirac was selling it.

What am I getting at? If time is at issue, as they argue, then they are running out of it. They must act with agility. And to do so, they've got to be very specific about timelines.

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