Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (L) meets with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the Iikura Guesthouse in Tokyo, Japan, March 16, 2017. (Xinhua/Ma Ping)
TOKYO, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Visiting U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's calls for a new approach to tackle the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s missile and nuclear ambitions could be a step in the right direction if such moves are of a conciliatory and not incendiary nature, experts here said.
Tillerson is in Tokyo as part of the first leg of his inaugural Asian tour since he took office on Feb. 1 and will also visit South Korea and China.
His trip comes on the heels of the DPRK launching four ballistic missiles toward Japan last week, which has raised tensions on the peninsular and in the region in general.
Experts here said Tillerson's visit was of paramount importance and that each country being visited played an integral role in issues pertaining to the peninsular as well as in the broader region and the globe.
But they also said there was no use in "flogging a dead horse" and a change in direction could see tensions reduced and progress made on an increasingly thorny situation if those made were the correct ones.
"It's fair to assume that Tillerson's Asian visit, beginning with Tokyo and meetings with the prime minister and foreign minister here and concluding in China after South Korea, will be vital source of information gathering that will go on to inform the United States' policy on issues in the region," political analyst Teruhisa Muramatsu told Xinhua.
"Tillerson will also be able to gauge individually and collectively the tone in the region and the extent to which some form of regional collaboration on avoiding the current deadlock with the DPRK could play out," Muramatsu said.
He further elucidated by saying that it is no secret that there remains separate issues between Japan and its neighboring countries, but that it was of equal importance to address the current impasse (with the DPRK) and unite in finding an alternate way to proceed positively.
Though Tillerson himself conceded that while the last two decades of political and diplomatic efforts regarding the DPRK's perceived provocations had essentially failed and that a new path should be perused, he didn't go as far as to explain exactly what this new route could be.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (2nd R) meets with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (1st L) at the Iikura Guesthouse in Tokyo, Japan, March 16, 2017. (Xinhua/Ma Ping)
But as experts like Muramatsu attest, the current situation is verging on catastrophic and could only lead to a further escalation or a regional arms race unless the tension in the region can be eased.
"The current direction is a precarious one wants to see how such a volatile chapter might conclude, were there to be no thoughtful intervention," Muramatsu said.
"And while there have been difficulties in the past, a layered approach involving multilateral dialogue and concrete action on all sides to 'take a step back' is needed right now to create some breathing space," said the expert.
He said the worst-case scenario was unimaginable, but also stressed that major economies and forces in the immediate region all undergoing their own paradigmatic shifts; be these economical, social, political or a combination of all three, meant that another 20-years of deadlock over the DPRK issue was "not an option."
"The main six-party talks may have ostensibly failed up until now, but multilateral talks between the key stakeholders here must be at least one indispensable tool to be used in deescalating the current situation," said Muramatsu, adding that a prelude to this might be a concerted effort on all sides to not "rattle their sabres."
It remains an ever-increasing challenge for all government's diplomacy but a "flash-point" need not be reached that itself could lead to a point of no return, said Muramatsu. He also said stakeholders need to take a "quid pro quo" approach, with no one party overstepping its authority.
The expert went on to traverse the notion of "pivot to Asia" and its realignment of forces and assets to the Pacific region, and while quoting Newton's third law, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction," said that both actions and reactions need to be carefully measured.
"Particularly at this time, as the region is something of a powederkeg, in one way or another, and cool heads need to prevail. I hope Tillerson is mindful of this and while reiterating certain policy standpoints that remain unwavering, his remarks thus far seem more conciliatory that incendiary."
"This will hopefully continue to be his stance throughout his Asian tour and this tone may be the right one to be adopted by the new administration to which he belongs," Muramatsu concluded, echoing the position of U.S. officials who also said regarding future policy that "all options are on the table."