Japan may ask North Korea for compensation over the North’s abduction of more than a dozen Japanese, and will provide no economic aid unless the North ceases targeting Japan with missiles, a Japanese official said Sunday.
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said on a television program that North Korea “clearly violated (Japan’s) domestic law” with the abductions. “The government will consider actions, including demanding compensation, in line with international law,” he added.
North Korea produced a list of 14 abducted Japanese during the summit meeting Tuesday in Pyongyang. Eight were listed as dead and five alive, with no records of the remaining person entering North Korea. It also admitted its agents conducted abductions. North Korea apologized and vowed never to allow such kidnappings to recur.
“The Nodong missiles target Japan,” said Abe, a hawkish member of the Liberal Democratic Party. “As long as they are aiming at us, there is no way we can consider providing aid.”
Abe’s remarks suggest Tokyo wants North Korea to go beyond the promise it made to Japan last Tuesday to extend its moratorium on missile tests beyond 2003.
Abe stressed that Japanese economic aid, even if provided, would be made in ways that avoid supplementing North Korea’s military capability.
But Abe said Japan may consider providing rice to the hunger-stricken country as an emergency provision.
“There is room for considering multilateral action once the World Food Program makes an appeal,” he said.
North Korea pledged to freeze missile tests from 2001 to 2003 after facing international sanctions over a rocket it launched in 1993. Part of that rocket flew over Japan and fell into the Pacific. Tokyo claims North Korea was testing a Taepodong ballistic missile, but Pyongyang says it was conducting a satellite launch.
The Nodong is a shorter-range missile said to be already deployed by North Korea.
Japan has provided 1.18 million tons of rice to North Korea through international organizations such as the World Food Program, including 500,000 tons in the last package, completed in 2001.
Abe said Japan intends to resume talks by the end of October on normalizing relations between the two countries. The talks have been stalled for two years, but Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il agreed at the summit to resume them.
Relatives of the abductees and their supporters want all suspicions regarding the abductees cleared up, including the causes of death, before Japan resumes normalization talks.
“We’ll make an overall judgment on what should be cleared up before the talks, what should be taken up during them and what’s best,” Abe said.
The government is seeking to send the relatives of the abductees to North Korea before the stalled normalization talks resume by the end of next month. Koizumi will meet with the relatives next Friday to brief them on his summit talks in Pyongyang.
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