2007: Asia Inter-religious Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution - Keynotes

LIM Don Won

Dr. LIM Don Won

Chairperson of Sejong Foundation, former Minister of Unification, South Korea

"The religious along with civic groups in Japan and Korea as leading forces must monitor every war preparation that their own government makes..."

Im Wortlauf (English) als pdf-Datei, ,

Keynote Speech

Peace in the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia

It is my privilege to be able to exchange my views and opinions here today regarding the Korean Peninsula and Peace in Northeast Asia at this Asia Inter-Religious Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Constitution. I would like to thank the conference organizers for inviting me to participate in this discussion of the Japanese constitution and the peace issues in the East Asian region. Also, I'd like to pay sincere respects to all those religious leaders who have devoted their lives to protecting the peace constitution as well as to building peace in Northeast Asia and the world. I trust that this conference will accomplish outstanding results, as anticipated.

In recent years we have observed international efforts being made to build peace by dismantling cold-war structures in Northeast Asia. The six-party talks between the US, China, Russia, South Korea, North Korea, and Japan have reached an agreement on three crucial points: First, they agreed to simultaneously promote nuclear disarmament of North Korea and the normalization of relations between the US and North Korea. Second, they also agreed to promote talks among those countries involved to transform the current state of truce into a regime of peace. Thirdly, they decided to study plans for regional security and increased cooperation for the purpose of maintaining peace in Northeast Asia. Concrete measures have already been taken to implement all these points, and by next year it is quite likely that some visible results may be produced, least partially.

Today I'd like to convey my views and opinions on the three areas mentioned above. First, I'd like to examine the abolition of North Korea's nuclear program and the cessation of hostilities between the US and North Korea, which has been a longstanding obstacle to peace in Northeast Asia. Then I'd like to discuss the building of a peaceful regime for the Korean Peninsula, and finally ponder the question of promoting peace in Northeast Asia.

In the early 1990's the end of the cold war was already starting to affect the Korean Peninsula. Seizing this opportunity, South and North Korea agreed to work towards a peaceful co-existence based on reconciliation and mutual cooperation. The Soviet Union and China also decided to seek amicable relationships with the South, while South and North Korea became members of the United Nations at the same time. But the US, which had insisted on cross-recognition of both Koreas by Japan, the Soviet Union, China, and itself, declined to recognize North Korea and continued its cold-war era policy of containment.

As a matter of survival, North Korea sought to pursue normalized relations with the U.S. It then pushed ahead, in a provoking manner, a nuclear development program to counter the perceived U.S. threat. The program was intended to assure the regime's survival and be used as a negotiation card in its talks with the U.S. Whatever the rationale, however, a nuclear North Korea cannot be tolerated. It must be stopped by all means because it is likely to lead to nuclear proliferation and will certainly threaten the peace in Northeast Asia.

In 1994 the newly inaugurated Democratic administration of Bill Clinton reached an entente with North Korea and signed the Agreed Framework in Geneva. In it North Korea agreed to freeze and disassemble its nuclear facilities, while the U.S. agreed in return to provide a light-water nuclear power plant and normalize relations with North Korea. The U.S. and North Korea subsequently of State Albright even visited Pyongyang. In preparation It looked as if normalization was proceeding smoothly and both denuclearization and peace for the Korean Peninsula was imminent.

The Republican administration of George W. Bush, which took office in 2001, chose a path very much opposed to the previous administration and denied any thawing of relations with North Korea. President Bush labeled North Korea a member of the "Axis of Evil" and sought a regime change, even if it required 'a preemptive military strike'. The so-called neo-conservative hard-liners in Washington insisted on turning up the pressure on North Korea and continued the containment policy while abrogating the Agreed Framework. In response, Pyongyang decided to resume its nuclear development that had been frozen for 8 years, and in October last year it detonated a nuclear device. In the end, the neo-conservative hardliners lost the political standoff: The North Korean regime remained in place, and its nuclear development program remained unchecked.

The defeat of the Republican Party in the off-year elections last November can be attributed largely to the multiple failures in President Bush's foreign policy, as witnessed in the nuclear testing by North Korea and the deteriorating situation in the Middle East, especially Iraq. The neo-conservatives, having played a leading role in fashioning foreign policy, saw themselves leaving Washington. The Bush administration, as a result of this development, had to shift its stance from a 'one- handed diplomacy based on power' to a more practical diplomacy based on international cooperation.

Against this backdrop, President Bush early this year decided to change course in his approach to North Korea, altering his hostile stance of the last 6 years to a more accommodating one. Abandoning such a hard-line policies of 'no dialogue with North Korea' and 'no security guarantees to dictators', Washington came to recognize the regime that it had long tried to change, and came to engage in direct negotiations. And in returning to the spirit of the Agreed Framework of Geneva, the two countries consented to negotiate nuclear disarmament in return for normalized relations.

This major shift by President Bush must have been seen as a disappointing betrayal in the eyes of the neo-conservatives in the U.S., Korea and Japan. Although it is truly regrettable that 6 long years were wasted, the fact that the two adversaries are finally on the right path to finding solutions should greatly spur the peace making efforts in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.

Following the entente between the US and the North, and also as a result of the six-party talks, Pyongyang promised to scrap its nuclear facilities, and Washington agreed to remove North Korea from its list of terrorism sponsors and lift trade sanctions. Nuclear facilities have already been closed down and measures to dis¬able them are in progress, with the hope that these will be completed by the end of this year. Washington is now deliberating ways to lift the freeze on the North's assets in a Macao-based bank and to remove North Korea from the list of the state sponsors of terrorism. Washington is also assessing how and to what extent it will allow North Korea to tap into international financial agencies.

Pyongyang announced that it would declare the contents of its nuclear program by the end of this year. Next must come its declaration, inspection and abolition of nuclear materials. In exchange for these concessions, it is hoped the U.S. will move to normalize relations with North Korea.

Among the complex international problems presently confronting the U.S., North Korea's nuclear problem is the only one that can be said to be showing any signs of progress. The outcome depends more on the U.S.'s will to implement a solution rather than the specifics of the solution it formulates. I have high hopes that President Bush will produce diplomatic results before the end of his term by rejecting the advice of the hard-liners and pressing for a solution regarding nuclear weap¬ons with Pyongyang. North Korea, for its part, must abide by its promises and press forward with its denuclearization and normalize relations with the U.S.

The window of opportunity is finally open - it is a long sought chance to achieve peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia by scrapping the outdated cold-war structure. The successful implementation of the recent agreements could make 2008 a milestone year in which the North Korean problem is solved and the hostile relationship between the U.S. and North Korea is made a thing of the past. The obstacles ahead are many, and given that mutual trust is not yet fully developed, some obstacles may seem insurmountable. We need to render every assistance and support to the leaders of both nations so that they can overcome, with firm political will, any difficulties that may lie ahead.

Solving the North's nuclear problem and mending the hostile relations between the U.S. and the North will spur the peace process in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia. Japan must also play a positive role in Northeast Asia's peace process by reaching out to North Korea. Japan should not stall the process by insisting on solving the deadlocked abduction issue first. Rather, it is hoped that Japan will vigorously promote better relations with North Korea and somehow in the process come up with a solution for the abduction problem.

At the end of WWII, the Korean Peninsula was liberated from the colonial rule of the Japanese, only to be divided and controlled by the U.S. and Soviet Union and then made to suffer the ravages of war. The war left deep wounds in the minds of people before ending in a truce. Even today, a half century later, a tenuous ceasefire maintains a state of no-peace and no-war.

Seventeen years have passed since the end of the cold war. Yet the Korean Peninsula stands isolated in time, unable to move into the present era. Neither unification nor peace has yet to be achieved. What the Peninsula needs is to transform the truce regime into a peace regime by scrapping the cold-war structure.

Since the end of the cold war, the peninsula has witnessed two attempts at peace. Seizing the chance at the end of the cold war in the early 1990's, both South and North Korea agreed to reconcile with each other and seek cooperation under a peaceful coexistence. Adopting a 'Basic Agreement' between the South and the North, they articulated a new direction for the 'development-of relations in the peninsula. This document still serves as a basic canon in that regard even today.

Another attempt came at the end of 1990's. A joint effort by three administrations, i.e., Kim Dae-Jung of the Republic of Korea, Clinton of the U.S., and Obuchi of Japan, sought to promote a peace process through a more open policy towards North Korea. As a result, summit talks between the South and North were held in June of 2000 for the first time in their divided history, bringing forth a new era of reconciliation and cooperation. Over the last seven years, feelings of hostility between the South and North have gradually eased, and small buds of trust are starting to grow in its place. In addition, changes are taking place with regard to the internal order both in Seoul and in Pyongyang. At one point, at least, the U.S. and North Korea saw remarkable improvements in their relationships, which was hoped to culminate in President Clinton's visit to Pyongyang. Japan also pushed for an amicable entente with the North. The advent of the Bush administration, however, resulted in suspension of all of this.

What are the obstacles blocking the peace process in the Peninsula? It is the hostility between the U.S. and the North, the nuclear weapons pursued by the North, and the lingering cold war structure in Northeast Asia. The six-party talks have already agreed to eliminate these hindrances by seeking to ameliorate the U.S.-North Korea hostilities, solving the nuclear problem, establishing diplomatic relations between Japan and the North, promoting entente and building a peaceful regime on the Peninsula, and lastly, by studying ways and to increase the level of security cooperation.

Assuming the nuclear facilities of the North are disabled as scheduled by the end of this year, a meeting of all concerned parties should be held under the auspices of the United Nations to bring lasting peace to the Peninsula. I expect it to be a four-party meeting comprised of South and North Korea, which are the direct beneficiaries of the new order, as well as China and the U.S., which are signatories to the cease-fire agreement.

As we have learned from the example of Vietnam, the conclusion of a peace treaty does not in itself guarantee lasting peace. The four-party talks on the question of the peace in the Korean Peninsula must first commit to move beyond the existing truce and determine to seek a lasting peace for the region. They will then have to discuss specific measures to guarantee the peace, such as the denuclearization of the Peninsula, the cessation of hostile relations, and greater coordination among defense matters. Only when tangible progress is made in these various areas will a peace accord become reality.

True peace on the Peninsula can never be achieved as long as the two Koreas remain divided. Under the status quo, the South and North will continue to assert their legitimacy and both will feel compelled to continue their current arms buildup. Peace under these circumstances will be passive and cannot be enduring.

Therefore any peace for the Korean Peninsula must overcome the division and aim for unification. It must be a positive peace that will lead to a fundamental dissolution of security threats, and involve concrete measures that build trust among the militaries so they can embark on disarmament. At the same time, the South and North Korea must increase economic interaction and cooperation, with an eye towards making economic unification a reality. The two Koreas should therefore establish an oversight entity, along the lines of the 'South-North Union' already agreed to in the 6/15 Joint Declaration of 2000, to jointly promote and administer the process towards peace and unification.

These efforts in turn will have an enormous impact on the peace, security and cooperation among all nations in the Northeast Asian region.

Northeast Asia today is a dynamic economic zone, capable not only of promot¬ing its own prosperity but of serving as an engine of growth in the global economy. Its leaders should seize all opportunities to pursue prosperity for the entire region by strengthening cross-boarder ties in various fields including finance, trade, en¬ergy, and the environment, etc.

The future of Northeast Asia, however, will also be influenced by complex and changing international relations. China is rapidly becoming an economic force to be reckoned with. Some are starting to regard it was a potential threat, cautioning that such rapid growth needs to be checked. It is in our common interest, however, to help China peacefully achieve modernization by making sure it is integrated into the world economy.

There is growing concern and wariness that Japan, the world's second largest economic power, might revive its militarism by abandoning Article 9 of its Peace Constitution. Japan is also being asked to come to better terms with its past, to work to alleviate the lingering mistrust and achieve true reconciliation and understanding with its neighbors.

If the U.S., which is the only superpower in the world, will promote equilibrium and stability in this region, it should be able to make significant contributions to the peace and stability in Northeast Asia. But if the same superpower should pursue hegemony, it will escalate tensions with China and greatly diminish any prospects for peace. And should Japan fail to dissuade the U.S. of possible hegemonic interests, or even cooperate under the guise of their mutual security treaty, then the future of Northeast Asia will be fraught with danger.

What is needed for peace and co-prosperity in Northeast Asia is a dose of posi¬tive thinking. As an ancient Greek philosopher noted: "The very belief that conflict is inevitable gives rise to it." The possibility of war necessitates a military build-up, which in turn triggers fear in the minds of opponents and brings on conflict. War can be fomented by merely swaying people's perceptions - by exaggerating the threat posed by a situation, or expounding the inevitability of confrontation. Mistrust combined with military might can lead to the most unfortunate circumstances. We must work to prevent such escalation.

A positive environment for the promotion of security must therefore be created in Northeast Asia. Not an exclusive, absolute security for one's own country, but a joint system of codependence and cooperation through the nurturing of mutual trust is what is needed. Perhaps we can learn from the experience of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). While improving cross-boarder relations to build military trust and cooperation under the prevailing detente (1975¬1990), the OSCE successfully reduced armaments and was able to bring an end to the cold war in Europe, thereby building a lasting foundation for peace in the region.

The six-party talks dealing with the nuclear problem of North Korea can also become a framework for the discussion of security and cooperation in Northeast Asia. Potential conflicts and military tensions can and must be dealt with by build¬ing political and military trust through such a framework. At the same time, mu¬tual security must also be assured by curtailing arms buildups and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass-destruction. One would also hope for the discussions to go beyond military and security matters and encompass the economy, trade, the environment, terrorism, and international crime.

I'd like to say a final word about Article 9 of Japan's Peace Constitution. Japan successfully modernized and opened itself up to the West during the Meiji Restoration. When it opted for imperialism and war, however, Japan inflicted tremendous sacrifice and sufferings on its Asian neighbors, including the Korean people. Be that as it may, however, Japan has changed. It has become the world's second economic power, owing to the unceasing efforts of its people to develop a parlia¬mentary democracy and achieve remarkable economic growth. It is also trying to fulfill its international responsibilities as a global leader by offering economic assistance to developing nations. Japan has earned the respect, especially of other peace loving people, because the Japanese people produced the Peace Constitu¬tion, for which they can be rightfully proud of, and continue to uphold its Article 9 as the foundation for peace and prosperity in post-war Japan.

In the eyes of those who were subjugated to the colonial control and military aggression of Japan, Article 9 is seen to reflect the sincere resolve of the Japanese people to repent for their past and not repeat the same mistakes. It has become an invaluable asset in rebuilding the trust of its Asian neighbors.

Many Asians, however, are concerned that the move by some to amend Article 9 will threaten the peace and stability of the region. It also causes many to doubt whether Japan has truly renounced its mistakes of the past, and whether it has fully committed to prevent their reoccurrence again.

Japan plays a very vital role in promoting peace in Northeast Asia. And the most important thing it can do towards this end is to guard and preserve Article 9. The peace seeking brothers and sisters of Asia sincerely hope Japan will never take part in any wars or assist in the war efforts, of others. And they certainly do not want to see Japan start another war of its own. Rather, they want Japan to contribute to the well-being of the world community through its pacifism.

The peace loving people of Asia also look to Japan to take a leading role in the promotion of security and cooperation in the region. By doing so, Japan will alleviate lingering mistrust about its past, prevent hegemonic conflicts and de-escalate the military tension in the region, and thereby make peace and co-prosperity a reality for Northeast Asia.

Jesus Christ said "Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children." Again, I express pay my respects to all of you here, the religious leaders and peacemakers who work for peace in Northeast Asia by guarding Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Constitution. I sincerely hope that your efforts will be unimpeded.

Lastly, I offer my respects to the many concerned citizens of Japan who continue the struggle with moral bravery to preserve Article 9.

I applaud you. Thank you for listening.


Dr. Lim is currently the Chairman of the Sejong Foundation since November 2004. Prior to this, he served as the Senior Secretary to the President for Foreign Policy and National Security, the Minister of Unification, the Director-General of the National Intelligence Service, and the Special Advisor to the President on National Security and Unification-all under the Kim Dae-jung Government from February 1998 to February 2003.

He is known as the architect and missionary of the Sunshine Policy, and made a contribution to the June 2000 Inter-Korean Summit and the June 15, 2000 South-North Joint Declaration. After retiring as a major general in 1980 from 27 years' duty in the Korean Army, he served as the Korean Ambassador to Nigeria and Australia, respectively, before assuming the Chancellorship at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS) in March 1988.

From 1990 to 1993, he was a key member of the delegation for the Inter-Korean Prime Ministerial Talks and played a leading role in adopting the 1992 South-North Basic Agreement and the 1992 Joint Declaration of Denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. He also served as the Vice Minister of Unification from 1992 to 1993.

From 1995 to 1998, he was the Secretary-General of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Founda¬tion for the Asia-Pacific Region.

Born in Wiwon, Pyoungan-bukdo province in 1934, he was educated at Korea Military Academy and Seoul National University. He has honorary doctorate from Inje University.

Nord-Süd-Begegnung: alle Beiträge