Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Cuba today and met with dictators Fidel and Raul Castro.
The purpose of Abe's trip was simple -- to seek help over North Korea's nuclear provocations and its clandestine operations in Japan.
Nearly on a monthly basis, some senior North Korean is on a "working visit" to Cuba. Or some senior Cuban regime official is on a "working visit" to North Korea.
With the exception of China, there's no other nation in the world that North Korean officials visit with such frequency.
Just a few months ago, General Kim Yong-chol, head of North Korea's intelligence, cyber-warfare and clandestine operations agency, was on one of those "working visits" to Cuba.
And, of course, we all recall Cuba's smuggling of 240 tons of heavy weaponry to North Korea in 2013 -- the largest, ever violation of U.N. Security Council sanctions.
Cuba's regime will now offer its "help" -- for a price. And Kim's regime in North Korea will get a cut.
Call it the Castro-Kim two-step -- or simply blackmail.
For starters, Abe will mostly forgive Castro's $1.75 billion debt to Japan. That will open new lines of credit for Castro's regime. Abe is also extending Castro a foreign aid package.
Here's how Japan's Asahi Shimbun (diplomatically) reported it, "in the first visit to Cuba by a Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe on Sept. 22 offered billions of yen in grant aid and debt forgiveness while seeking cooperation on dealing with North Korea."
It's mostly unknown that Japan became Cuba's single, biggest creditor pursuant to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Such "engagement" with Japanese banks did nothing to promote democracy, openness or help the Cuban people. Instead, Cuba defaulted in October 2002 on a $750 million refinancing agreement with Japan’s private sector after having signed a debt restructuring accord with Tokyo in 1998.
Most of Cuba's debt to Japan is now owed by that nation's government-backed trade insurer, NEXI. (Note to Congress and those lobbying to extend financing for Castro's regime.)
Both Cuba and North Korea are desperate for hard currency, so it presents a perfect opportunity to put the squeeze on Japan and, most importantly, its banks.
The cycle begins again. After all, rogue behavior (sadly) pays off in today's world.
Image below: North Korean military officials during a "shopping spree" in Cuba.