North Korea is trying to be closer to Japan and Russia in response to the summit talks between South Korea and China.
The Japanese government announced on July 3 that it will lift some of its own restrictions on the North as Pyongyang is taking a proactive stance with regards to the Japanese abduction issue. Specifically, it is going to allow North Koreans to enter Japanese territory, allow the heads of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan to re-enter the territory, cancel its request for Japanese to not enter North Korea, ease its restrictions on remittance to the North, and permit shipping from the North for humanitarian purposes.
Pyongyang is mending its relations with Moscow at a rapid pace, too. Hwang Pyong-so, director of the General Political Bureau of the DPRK Army, had an interview with the Russian military band on July 2 in the North. “My leader Kim Jong-un hopes that our bilateral relations will be brought to another level,” he said during the meeting, adding, “The military and people of my country will make every effort to that end.”
It is said that his hospitality towards the Russian army officers and emphasis on the friendly bilateral relations are to hold China in check and reduce the North’s dependence on China against President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Seoul.
Under the circumstances, it is expected that the international community will criticize Japan for lifting its restrictions on the North. Pyongyang has recently launched short-range ballistic missiles, which means that the other countries have to work more closely with one another to contain the North. Japan’s move at this time is unlikely to be a contributing factor.
Some international political experts, in the meantime, are predicting that North Korea will be able to have little practical benefit at best from such fence mending and the development of the border region between the North and Russia since the major issues of nuclear development and missile launch are as they are at present.