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Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama admitted August 6 that North Korea has yet to reply to a proposal to hold high-level bilateral talks this weekend, but he would not comment on speculation that Pyongyang has been angered.

“We do not know why North Korea has not made any official reply,” Kajiyama said. “But we are expecting things will develop in a favorable way.” Media reports have said that Pyongyang may be angered over a recent comment by Koichi Kato, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party.

During a visit to China last month, Kato said the chief aim of the ongoing review of Japan-U.S. defense cooperation is to handle any crisis involving North Korea. The government has not received formal confirmation from North Korea that the talks will go ahead. Consultations are planned to be held in Beijing to discuss the lifting of a ban that keeps Japanese women living in the country with their Korean husbands from visiting Japan.

When repeatedly asked why Pyongyang has remained silent on the matter, Kajiyama said that he is unable to comment based on speculation. However, Kajiyama said North Korean officials may be preoccupied with matters related to ongoing talks among South and North Korea, the U.S. and China to prepare for formal negotiations to secure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Kajiyama added that he is also aware of media reports that say a remark made by a top Japanese politician, apparently Kato, may have influenced the North Korean attitude. Kato, during his meeting with Chinese President Jiang Zemin, said that about 90 percent of Japanese think of North Korea — not China — when the defense review is mentioned.

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