While the PyeongChang Olympic Games opened the door to rapprochement between the two Koreas, tension between the United States and North Korea showed no sign of easing as Washington maintained its hardline stance against Pyongyang. The Japanese government has been in lockstep with the United States on North Korean issues, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe frequently reiterates that Tokyo stands shoulder to shoulder with Washington in dealing with the rogue state.
Against this backdrop, a bank scandal threatens to jolt the Japan-U.S. alliance to its foundations. How will the United States react to money sent from Japan that could possibly end up financing North Korea's nuclear development program? The stage for these money transfers was Ehime Prefecture, a tranquil region in Shikoku and far from the capital of Tokyo.