Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is visiting Washington, D.C., where he will be discussing North Korea and other bilateral issues with President Bush on Friday.

The purpose of the recent Six-Party Talks was to bring concerted regional and international pressure on the North Korean regime, causing it to change course. It is unclear if North Korea will change course, but it is increasingly clear that the United States' approach is risking a key alliance for little in return from North Korea.

U.S. negotiators surely believe that the choice between North Korea's nuclear weapons and the fate of Japanese citizens is no contest. But the question they should be asking is: if Kim Jong-il can't come clean on abductions decades ago, what makes us believe he will come clean on his nuclear program?

It makes little sense to sideline Japan. It is perhaps the country most threatened by Pyongyang. We should be listening carefully.

The meeting comes as reports claim that the United States may soon remove North Korea from the state sponsors of terrorism list as part of the Six-Party Talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The possibility of such a move has caused strains in the U.S.-Japan relationship, which has long been a cornerstone in U.S.-Asia policy.

Rep. Royce is Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade.