Published: November 01, 2006
Oceans away from his native Japan, nuclear expert Mitsuru Kurosawa gently spoke
about the not-so-delicate issues of North Korea’s recent nuclear test, U.S.
foreign policy and Asia’s balance of power during an academic symposium in the
Sykes College of Business on Oct. 27.
Kurosawa, a professor of law at Osaka University, was the keynote speaker for
the two-day Southern Symposium on Asian Regional Security last weekend that
brought scholars from Florida and Georgia to hear Kurosawa and present their
ideas for resolving security issues.
The United States, Kurosawa said, must find new ways to converse with North
Korea. He said that it had been a mistake for the American government to back
away from bilateral engagement with North Korea out of preference for six-party
negotiations also involving China, Russia, Japan and South Korea.
“The U.S. must be more active to engage North Korea to have bilateral
negotiations or have informal talking within six-party talks,” said Kurosawa. “I
think this is the best way to solve this issue.”
Kurosawa discussed how Japan would support sanctions, but only as a measure
to bring North Korea back into negotiations, not as a measure to bring regime
change. He said that China, in particular, did not want regime change or a
unified Korea because their leaders view North Korea as a buffer against U.S.
power in the region.
In addition to Kurosawa, six other scholars presented, and six UT students
were invited to observe and ask questions. Dr. Maria Rost Rublee, the event’s
program director and UT assistant professor of government and world affairs,
said the purpose was for experts on Asia to get to know each other, collaborate
and publish their proceedings.
One presenter, Taehyong Ahn, a Ph.D. student at Florida International
University, said that both North Korea and the U.S. should remove pre-conditions
in order to return to negotiations. He also said that despite distrust, the two
nations should communicate.
“We have to talk with Kim Jong Il because even during the Cold War we talked
with the Soviet Union,” said Ahn. “In the 1970s, we also talked to China, and
all the talk changed the situation.”
Dr. Kim Reimann, assistant professor at Georgia State University, said that
North Korea’s leaders probably are bluffing when they say that sanctions will
lead to military retaliation.
“They know it’s an all-lose situation if they actually do something,” said
Dr. Reimann. “This is the game that’s continually playing out, but it’s a kind
of suicidal situation if they were to actually take any military measures.”
During a reception prior to Kurosawa’s speech, UT students mingled with the
visiting scholars and offered their own opinions during the event, which was
sponsored by the Japan Foundation.
Yuna Scott, a junior from Guantanamo, Cuba, said that she did not believe
that sanctions would be effective against North Korea.
“I don’t think sanctions are effective, because if they want to do something,
they will do it whether they have sanctions or not,” said Scott. “Cuba has done
anything they could for about 50 years now with sanctions, so if a country wants
to do it, they will do it.”
Kashima Cortez, a senior finance major, said that she had followed closely
the news about North Korea testing a nuclear weapon. Although she remained
optimistic for a peaceful resolution, Cortez acknowledged the issue’s
“I don’t think threats are necessarily the right answer, but then again, what
do you do?” she asked. “How do you have somebody do what you want them to do
without a threat?”
As with others at the symposium, Cortez stressed the importance of diplomacy
with North Korea and other nations.
“I think we as a world need to come together and decide what we’re doing with
our life, basically,” said Cortez. “I think the U.S. and its allies need to come
together, figure it out, and basically lead by example. We also have nuclear
Note: On Tuesday, Oct. 31, the New York Times reported that
North Korea had agreed to return to six-nation talks on dismantling its nuclear
weapons programs, ending an 11-month boycott.