Japan and the U.S. are in agreement that they have no intention of seriously pursuing diplomacy with North Korea:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump agreed that there would be no meaningful dialogue with North Korea unless Pyongyang decides to give up its nuclear weapons, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

If North Korea has to make major concessions as a condition for beginning a “meaningful dialogue,” that guarantees that there will be no dialogue of any kind. This is not a difficult concept to grasp, and yet it seems to elude top officials in at least two major governments. The only reason to make denuclearization a condition of dialogue is if you do not wish for a diplomatic solution to the standoff. Insisting on this certainly won’t compel North Korea to yield and agree to denuclearization, and by insisting on it our government has closed the door to having any productive talks. If the U.S. and its allies require all or nothing from North Korea on this question, we will assuredly get nothing, and then there is an increased danger of escalation leading to a devastating war.

The Japanese-U.S. position is described in this report as “getting tough” with North Korea, but the truth is that our intransigence and inflexibility on this issue make things very easy for North Korea. Their government assumes that the U.S. and its allies have no intention of negotiating in good faith, and they see denuclearization as a trap that serves as a prelude to regime change, and the U.S. has been working overtime over the last year to confirm them in their suspicions. If the U.S. and Japan really wanted to make progress with North Korea through negotiations, they would drop their insistence on “complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization” and start with much smaller demands that North Korea might be willing to accept. They aren’t doing any of these things, and that should tell all of us that they’re not really interested in finding a realistic solution.