JCP welcomes Koizumi's plan to have direct talks with North Korea

The Japanese Communist Party has welcomed the announcement that Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro's will visit the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on September 17 for talks with North Korean Kim Jong Il. JCP Chair Shii Kazuo explained the basic position of the JCP toward the planned Japan-North Korea summit at a press conference on September 2. Shii's remarks are as follows:

SHII Kazuo: The JCP has long advocated establishing a direct negotiation channel between Japan and North Korea and therefore welcomes the prime minister's decision to hold one--on-one talks with the North Korean leader as a very significant step.

If the coming summit can resolve questions that exist between our two countries and achieve an advance toward normalizing Japan-North Korea relations, it will contribute not only to strengthening peace and friendship between Japan and North Korea but also to world peace.

This is the position from which the JCP strongly hopes that the summit meeting will be a first step towards normalizing Japan-North Korea diplomatic relations. The JCP will spare no effort in cooperating with it.

Q: Some governing party members of parliament say that if there is a failure to make a break through on the alleged abduction of Japanese nationals, the summit talks will fall short of meeting expectations. Others say that we should not expect too much from the summit. What is your view on these opinions?

Shii: Negotiations are often unpredictable and you cannot tell for sure what progress can be achieved.

Various outcomes may be possible, but it would not be appropriate to believe that everything must be resolved at one summit meeting. That would not help make progress.

If the summit meeting produces something conducive to a bilateral relationship that enables the two countries to discuss regularly, it will be a significant step forward.

The agreement reached at the talks held on August 25 and 26 between senior foreign ministry officials of Japan and North Korea has great importance for proceeding with Japan-North Korea talks. It is reported that they agreed that the Japanese and North Korean leaders will examine the possibility of an early resumption of normalization talks by comprehensively promoting the solution of various problems between the two countries as well as questions concerning the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

"Questions concerning the normalization of relations" include the resolution of issues related to Japan's colonization of Korea, and the "resolution of outstanding issues between Japan and North Korea" including the settlement of humanitarian issues such as the alleged abduction of Japanese nationals.

So the agreement is that these questions will be all inclusive at the talks. This seems to be a wise approach.

Trying to solve problems in this way is more appropriate than solving them one by one by prioritizing a particular issue.

Q: What specific action do you conceive of when you say that the JCP will spare no efforts in cooperating with the summit?

Shii: The JCP is ready to do everything necessary in cooperation with the summit meeting, perhaps in many ways. We are opposed to Prime Minister Koizumi on basic issues of national politics. But on this particular question he is going to take a step forward and the summit meeting is a very important event that has an important bearing on Japan's national interest and peace in Asia and the world. Therefore it is natural for the JCP as an opposition party to offer necessary cooperation. (end)