HIROSHIMA — The failure over the past decade of both the United States and Japan to effectively deal with North Korea has led to the current nuclear crisis, but their present policies have only exacerbated the problem, a group of nongovernmental organizations said at a symposium here Friday.

As a result, the larger goal of achieving a nuclear weapons-free Northeast Asia has become more elusive than ever, argued some representatives of leading NGOs watching America’s nuclear policies and efforts to establish a nuclear-free zone.

Greg Field, an American activist with Peace Action Maine, and Hiromichi Umebayashi, top representative of Peace Depot, spoke to about 200 people on the progress, or lack thereof, on international efforts to abolish nuclear weapons at both the grassroots and governmental levels.

“Both political parties in the United States have failed to deal with North Korea because U.S. policies have been based on mistaken assumptions and bad decisions,” he said.

While the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush has antagonized North Korea with its rhetoric, with Bush declaring publicly a few years ago that he loathes North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, Field said the policies of the U.S. are primarily to blame.

“The continued presence of U.S. troops in South Korea and Japan and the administration’s eagerness for a joint missile defense system with Japan have been destabilizing factors for regional peace,” he reckoned.

Much hope for progress toward settlement of the problems posed by North Korea rests in the six-nation talks between China, North and South Korea, Japan, Russia, and the United States. But Umebayashi figured that as long as the U.S. military is in Japan, disarming North Korea and attaining a nuclear-free zone is likely to be difficult.

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