• Kyodo

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Japanese and North Korean negotiators on Tuesday ended their second day of talks on establishing diplomatic relations, with the main issues believed to have been those related to Japan’s 1910-1945 colonization of the Korean Peninsula.

The two countries have so far disclosed little of the discussions that have taken place over the past two days in the Chinese capital, but a Japanese official indicated earlier in the day that prospects for a major breakthrough are bleak.

“This is not something that will produce specific results merely by holding talks once or twice,” the official said after Tuesday’s morning session. “We should not adopt a hasty attitude when we think about this.”

At the onset of Tuesday’s talks at the North Korean Embassy, the leaders of the two negotiating teams pledged to do their best to normalize ties at an early date.

“The path we must tread may be harsh, but we must go down it nevertheless,” said North Korea’s top negotiator, Ambassador Jong Thae Hwa. “Let us make efforts together. We must make sure that our work yields results soon.”

The head of the Japanese delegation, Ambassador Kojiro Takano, said, “Although it would not be possible to solve everything at once, we should, through our personal ties . . . aim to achieve suitable results through these negotiations.”

The official indicated earlier that discussions on the second day of talks were centering on North Korea’s demand for an apology and compensation for Japan’s annexation of the Korean Peninsula.

Those demands were also the focus of discussions in the first day of talks at the Japanese Embassy, which were described as just the beginning of full-fledged negotiations.

In previous talks, Japan rejected the North’s demand for wartime compensation, saying the two countries were not at war during the time Japan laid claim to the peninsula.

But in the last round of talks in August, Japan floated the idea of extending economic help instead, as it did when it normalized relations with South Korea in 1965. Japan gave the South $500 million in grants and loans in place of compensation.

In the current round, Tokyo is believed to have sought a compromise based on that plan.

Japan is also believed to have called for a compromise on the demand for an apology by, for example, drawing up a document based on a 1995 statement issued by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama.

In the statement, Murayama expressed “deep remorse and heartfelt apology” for the suffering and damage inflicted by Japan on Korea and other nations during its colonial rule and during World War II. Japan hopes to solve the issue by stipulating that the apology goes to the people of North Korea.

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