중앙데일리

Japan considering liaison office in North

Sept 04,2002
TOKYO -- The Japanese government is negotiating with North Korea to open a permanent liaison office in Pyeongyang, the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun reported Tuesday.

To prepare for the Sept. 17 summit between the Japanese and North Korean leaders, a temporary contact point was established in Pyeongyang on Tuesday, the newspaper said. Tokyo believes it needs a permanent liaison office, the daily said, because the two sides are expected to maintain frequent contacts once full-scale talks begin to normalize diplomatic ties.

Tokyo's chief cabinet secretary, Yasuo Fukuda, said Tuesday that Japan may leave the temporary office in place after the summit. The pro-Pyeongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryon, has served for decades as Pyeongyang's de facto representative in Tokyo, but Japan does not have established diplomatic channels for dialogue with the North.

The principal goal of the first-ever Japan-North Korea summit is to open bilateral ties, but Japan sees the issue of Japanese nationals allegedly kidnapped by the North as a crucial matter. "We cannot put the abduction issue aside to normalize relations," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan reportedly told journalists at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg.

Fifty-three percent of 2,000 eligible Japanese voters polled by Asahi Shimbun on Tuesday indicated that they expected Tokyo's relations with the North to improve after the summit.

by Oh Day-young




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