Development or human rights first? Japan’s approach to North Korea

Kim Kyungmook*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter introduces a Japanese perspective of the North Korean human rights problem. It first examines how the Japanese government has used strategically a development/humanitarian approach and a human rights approach towards North Korea. Secondly, it sheds light on the non-governmental politics on the North Korea problem. Some NGOs and the media in Japan, the chapter shows, support certain aspects of the government’s policy towards North Korea, while others criticise it and offer alternatives. In this regard, development-oriented actors and human rights groups in Japan often confront each other in attempting to address the North Korea problem. Finally, the chapter attempts to elucidate the potential role of Japan in the emerging regional order. The North Korea problem cannot be solved by any single actor and is best managed through a coordinated effort by outside powers, including Japan, the United States and South Korea. The issue will be addressed against the backdrop of US-Chinese hegemonic rivalry, so smaller powers such as South Korea and Japan have a great incentive to cooperate and see their preferred vision of reform emerge.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChina and Human Rights in North Korea
Subtitle of host publicationDebating a “Developmental Approach” in Northeast Asia
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781000470536
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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