American and Russian diplomats met in Beijing today to discuss the North Korea nuclear disarmament talks. After North Korea’s renewed commitment to the 6-party negotiations, the five states involved (minus N Korea) are now meeting in preparation to set the frame that the negotiations will take.

The parties are reportedly in agreement on the basic notion that the Korean peninsula must be de-nuclearized. North Korea’s closer allies in the region, China and Russia, are on board and for good reason. China is the clear loser if the Koreans are to develop a credible nuclear weapons program: their Asian monopoly on the bomb would no longer stand, and their influence would diminish.

Russia has a lot to gain, if negotiations take the desired direction — North Korea signed on to the talks expecting normalization in relations as well as energy and aid. Being one of the energy moguls in the region, Russia could see a new market, something it’s been working towards already. Russia has been looking for influence in the region, going ahead with a railway project which would cross the border into North Korea. Getting energy in, would give it more influence as well as economic benefit.

A date for the talks has not been set, with the Russians suggesting a date not earlier than mid-December.

North Korea has asked that Japan not participate in the nuclear negotiations, because officials are “imbeciles” for not accepting North Korea as a nuclear power. North Korea sees Japan as “no more than a state of the U.S. and it is enough for Tokyo just to be informed of the results of the talks by Washington.”

North Korea is yet again making the headlines by finding the least offensive way to be offensive. Targeting the US directly would not be in its best interest, but taking a stab at an ally of the US — and North Korea’s regional competitor — will keep North Korea in the news, without the repercussions. It is also something designed for a domestic audience; because the Koreans have agreed to go back to negotiations, they don’t want to look too weak domestically and making big statements is one way to do it. It is also something of great significance historically, because of Japan’s incursion into Korea and its hyper-industrialization which was achieved with a lot of Korean manpower.

Koreans in Japan today are still a separate part of society and there’s still issues of citizenship which have been unresolved.

Thus saying that Japan has a “wicked intention” vis-à-vis North Korea, is one way to get the domestic support that the Korean may need.