A major step toward Japan-North Korea normalization talks -- Akahata editorial, September 18

Japan's Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro and Kim Jong Il, chairman of the National Defense Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (Workers' Party of Korea general secretary), held talks in Pyongyang and agreed to resume Japan-North Korea normalization talks. This is of great significance.

Prime Minister Koizumi "expressed deep remorse and heartfelt apology" for Japan's past colonial rule over Korea.

Referring to the abduction of Japanese nationals, the North Korean side revealed their finding that four out of 11 persons involved in eight cases are still alive and six others are deceased.

Chairman Kim admitted that the abduction was carried out by North Korea's special agency and offered his apologies saying that officials responsible for that have been punished.

They must apologize to and compensate victims

In the joint declaration "both sides confirmed that they would comply with international law and would not commit acts threatening the security of the other side." The North Korean side declared that "it would take proper measures to prevent the recurrence of such regrettable things, a product of the abnormal relations between the DPRK and Japan."

It is really heartbreaking to learn that six out of the eleven persons who had been abducted by North Korea died without being repatriated to their homeland.

There are still many points still to be unraveled concerning the abductions.

The latest North Korean announcement may be a first step toward establishing all the facts, but unanswered questions include:

- Are there any other cases of abduction by North Korea?

- How were the victims of abduction treated in North Korea?

- Were officials who carried out the abduction identified and punished strictly?

The Japanese government must demand that North Korea provide answers to all these questions.

It goes without saying that North Korea must apologize to and compensate the victims.

Kidnapping foreign nationals by force is a violation of national sovereignty and a serious crime against basic human rights and humanity. We express our indignation at the crime committed by a North Korean agency.

Japan and North Korea haven long been without diplomatic relations since the end of World War II.

It is historic that the Japanese and North Korean leaders held talks and agreed to reopen talks for solving pending problems between the two countries and normalizing their bilateral relations.

Of all those countries which Japan invaded and colonized in the past, North Korea is the only country that Japan has yet to carry out a post-war settlement by expressing remorse or apology.

Based on "deep remorse" and "heartfelt apology" stated in the joint declaration, the Japanese government should sincerely deal with a post-war settlement.

The historical task of the Japanese government is to resolve all pending problems between the two countries, including the "settlement of the past," and achieve the normalization of Japan-North Korea relations.

The Japanese Communist Party since 1999 has proposed that an orderly negotiating channel be opened between Japan and North Korea without delay and efforts made to get negotiations resumed.

Contribution to peace in Asia

In addition to the "settlement of the past" and the abduction of Japanese nationals, the joint declaration also refers to various other questions, including nuclear development and missile launchings.

If Japan faces up to the post-war settlement by confirming that its colonization of Korea was fundamentally wrong and enables the two countries to proceed with their normalization talks, it will be conducive to the resolution of the many pending questions between the two countries and contribute to the peace and stability of Northeast Asia.

Undoubtedly, it will benefit the Japanese and North Korean peoples and will greatly contribute to peace and friendship between the two nations as well as to world peace. (end)