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Japan in 'no rush' to resume normalization talks with North

Japan is in “no rush” to resume normalization talks with North Korea, even though the conditions for returning to the negotiating table have been met, government sources said Wednesday.

In July last year, the government said Japan would resume talks with North Korea after the eight family members of five Japanese repatriated in October 2002 were sent to Japan. Charles Jenkins, the American husband of repatriated abductee Hitomi Soga, and his two daughters — the remaining three among the eight — arrived in Japan on Sunday.

The sources said Japan is taking its time because it expects the talks to become deadlocked soon after resumption.

“If we resume talks, we will have to talk about North Korea’s nuclear program and missile development,” a Foreign Ministry official said. “But those issues cannot be resolved only through bilateral talks when six-party talks are still ongoing.”

Japan maintains that bilateral concerns, including the North’s nuclear program, missile development and the issue of abduction, should be resolved before ties between the two countries can be normalized.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda told a news conference on Tuesday that the conditions necessary to resume normalization talks have “almost” been met. Pyongyang is positive toward resuming the talks, he said.

Hosoda’s remark contradicts a comment by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiken Sugiura earlier this month that the “obstacles to resuming talks with North Korea have been removed.” Sugiura’s comment came after a date had been set for Jenkins to be reunited with Soga in Jakarta.

But an official said that North Korea has reservations of its own, knowing Japan will push for further information on 10 Japanese nationals who were kidnapped to North Korea but, according to Pyongyang, have since died.

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