[EDITORIALS]Hope for Japan-North talksRelations between North Korea and Japan, which had been stalled, are showing signs of thawing. There have been reports of progress on the biggest stumbling block to North Korea-Japan relations, the issue of abducted Japanese citizens and their families. There are even rumors of a plan being pursued for Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to visit Pyeongyang to meet the family members of the Japanese abductees still in North Korea. Chinese President Hu Jintao said on Saturday that he had the impression that negotiations between North Korea and Japan on the issue would soon be concluded.
The normalization of North Korea-Japan relations would play an important role in the stability and prosperity of Northeast Asia. It is our wish that these promising signs materialize soon.
North Korea and Japan brought hopes that they would put their animosity of 50 years behind them and normalize their relations when they held a summit meeting in September 2002. But both countries broke faith in the process of dealing with the issue and a stalemate ensued.
The Koizumi cabinet was pressured by the rightist movement and critical public opinion to halt all negotiations to establish diplomatic ties with North Korea. Tension mounted as the Japanese government applied pressure on the North Korean natives living in Japan, blocked North Korean ships from entering Japanese ports and dispatched its self-defense forces abroad.
Of course, the stalling in negotiations between North Korea and Japan is not to be blamed on Tokyo alone. North Korea is just as much to blame with the threat it poses in regard to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and its alleged record of human rights abuses.
But, with the demise of the Cold War, if this region is to achieve peace and prosperity, North Korea must be induced to join the framework of international cooperation and openness. That is why we hope that North Korea and Japan salvage the sparks in the talks on the normalization of their relations. In particular, it is hoped that Japan, the largest economic power in the region, shows the political skills befitting a country of its economic size.