North Korea talks divide opposition

Opposition parties were divided Sunday over soon-to-be resumed negotiations between Japan and North Korea to normalize diplomatic ties.

The Democratic Party of Japan and the Liberal Party are cautious about resuming the talks, scheduled for Oct. 29 in Kuala Lumpur. They are concerned about North Korea’s recent admission that it has a secret nuclear weapons development program.

In contrast, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party said they support a resumption of talks.

“The abduction incidents and nuclear development are a result of North Korea betraying (international rules) and should be resolved ahead of the normalization talks,” said DPJ Secretary General Kansei Nakano on a TV program.

Liberal Party Secretary General Hirohisa Fujii criticized the joint declaration issued by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il after their summit in Pyongyang on Sept. 17.

“The declaration only specifies economic assistance and avoids other issues,” Fujii said. “If we enter into negotiations by leaving it as is, the abduction and nuclear development issues could be left buried.”

Meanwhile, JCP Chief Secretariat Tadayoshi Ichida called for an early resumption of the talks, saying, “We highly value (the declaration) because (the two leaders) decided to take up various pending problems between the two countries for discussion and to comprehensively address them.”

SDP Secretary General Mizuho Fukushima echoed Ichida’s views, saying, “We should condemn North Korea’s violations of the declaration after we sit at the (negotiation) table.”

Tourism delegation

A North Korean delegation left Pyongyang for Japan on Saturday to attend a World Tourism Organization conference, according to a North Korean broadcast monitored by Radiopress in Tokyo.

The delegation, led by Ryo Sung Chol, director of the State General Bureau of Tourism, is expected to attend the organization’s 38th Commission for East Asia and the Pacific.

It will be held in Nara Prefecture from Tuesday to Thursday.