The first-ever Japan-North Korea summit, slated for next Tuesday in Pyongyang, has left Japanese police wondering what role they will play in the security arrangements, police sources said Friday.
The National Police Agency, which provides security for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, sent a 10-member advance team to North Korea last Saturday to make arrangements with authorities there, but progress appears to have been limited.
“We don’t know much about our counterparts in North Korea. Security arrangements are still a blank slate,” one member of the delegation said before leaving North Korea for home Tuesday.
The delegation was headed by Katsuharu Ashikari, a senior official of the NPA’s Security Bureau.
The NPA usually dispatches an advance team to a country the prime minister is planning to visit, but Koizumi’s upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il presents a special challenge.
The NPA has made preparations for the visit by holding discussions with the security detail for South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, who visited North Korea in June 2000.
It was not until the Japanese police team arrived in Pyongyang, however, that the NPA was told which North Korean agency will be providing protection for the North’s leader during the summit.
Ashikari and other NPA officials returned to Japan on Tuesday and began drawing up security plans. However, they do not yet know where in the North Korean capital their security headquarters will be on the day of the summit, according to one official.
The official said another NPA delegation member, who has remained in Pyongyang, is also complaining that he has been unable to make any progress with his North Korean counterparts.
The agency is unable to work out the details of the security program because the exact schedule for the summit has not yet been disclosed.
“Unforeseen events remain very much a possibility,” a senior NPA official said, referring to the secrecy that usually surrounds the movements of Kim Jong Il.
“We usually have our security plans drawn up by now,” said a senior MPD official in charge of providing protection for the prime minister.
“Protection in a foreign country is provided on the basis of a relationship built on trust. But that can’t be built in a day,” the official said.
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