Yoichi Funabashi

Stories by Yoichi Funabashi

  • Japan: Stuck on the Sidelines

    Lost in the press coverage of the new nuclear deal with North Korea was a disturbing development: Japan's decision to remain the odd man out. Although it signed the agreement alongside Washington, Beijing, Seoul, Pyongyang and Moscow, Tokyo alone refused to provide any direct energy assistance to North Korea, in exchange for which Pyongyang has promised to start dismantling its weapons programs.Japan's refusal stands in stark contrast to its behavior the last time a major deal was struck with North Korea: the 1994 Agreed Framework. Under the 1994 deal, Japan and South Korea were the largest financial contributors, agreeing together to pay more than 90 percent of the estimated $5 billion construction costs for two light-water nuclear reactors, which North Korea was promised in return for giving up its weapons programs. China, which was not party to the deal, paid nothing. This time, however, Japan is the outlier: a radical departure from its tactics in the past and a worrisome shift...