The Abe cabinet, which was launched under the goal of a crisis breaking cabinet, has promoted comprehensive national reforms such as economic revitalization, social safety, and security reform.
However, as Prime Minister Abe mentioned in his resignation speech, the abduction issue remained unresolved, and the North Korean policy continued to change between sanctions, dialogue and pressure.
What factors determined the Abe cabinet’s North Korea policy? This study examines how the abduction issue and the North Korean nuclear threat were linked to Japan’s domestic politics and affected North Korea policy. There are three main arguments of this study.
First, while the US and the international community’s response to the Kim Jong-un regime was delayed, Abe’s cabinet politicized the abduction issue and approached North Korea. Second, as the North Korean nuclear issue worsened after 2016 and the Trump administration responded with maximum pressure, the Abe cabinet used the North Korean nuclear threat as a constitutional amendment strategy. Third, changes in the Abe cabinet’s strategy toward North Korea, such as “dialog and pressure,” “pressure without dialogue,” and “dialog without conditions,” are the result of Abe’s politics that link the abduction issue and the North Korean nuclear issue with domestic politics.