JCP chair expresses support for Koizumi's decision to resume normalization talks with North Korea

Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro met with the four opposition party leaders, including Japanese Communist Party Executive Committee Chair Shii Kazuo, on September 18 to report on his talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

On September 17 in Pyongyang, Koizumi and Kim reached agreement on opening Japan-North Korea normalization talks in October.

Notwithstanding the pending issues, including the abduction of Japanese nationals, "I decided that it is important for North Korea to join the international community in the interest of the security and peace of Northeast Asia, and signed the Pyongyang declaration with a view to resolving the pending issues in a comprehensive manner," Koizumi said.

He went on to say:

"There may be pros and cons concerning the outcome but they should be resolved in the course of normalization talks. We wanted to know whether such a way of opening negotiations is reasonable. I perceived North Korea's sincere willingness to improve Japan-North Korea relations and this led me to decide to resume normalization talks."

JCP Chair Shii stated as follows:

"I think it is an important step forward that the two leaders agreed to resume talks aimed at normalizing Japan-North Korea relations by signing the Japan-North Korea joint declaration that includes a call for a settlement of the past Japanese colonial rule of Korea and the North Korean promise to take measures to prevent the recurrence of incidents that would affect the lives and security of Japanese people.

"I gather that the prime minister had to make a difficult decision to resume talks. The JCP firmly supports the prime minister's position that this by no means has resolved the pending issues but that there can be no improvement without holding talks.

"During the summit talks, North Korea disclosed the fact that it did abduct Japanese nationals. This is clearly an international crime. If the state apparatus was implicated in the abduction, the matter will be even graver. The JCP lodged protest against the act.

"That North Korea admitted abducting Japanese nationals is just a first, not the final, step toward establishing the facts. In normalization talks, it is necessary for Japan to seek answers to a series of questions: the whole truth concerning the abductions, the punishment of those who were responsible for the acts, and apology to and compensation for the victims.

"Normalization talks may face difficulties, but the JCP strongly hopes that each of these issues be resolved reasonably based on the Japan-North Korea joint declaration, and that a path of peace and friendship be opened up between Japan and North Korea. The JCP is willing to extend any cooperation to this end."

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In the talks with the prime minister, Hatoyama Yukio, Democratic Party of Japan leader, said that it was premature to begin normalization talks with North Korea.

Ozawa Ichiro, Liberal Party leader, said that the decision made on the premise of resuming talks is not in Japan's national interests.

Takako Doi, Social Democratic Party leader, said that the door to normalization is now open, and that subsequent moves are important. (end)