blamed the decision on Pyongyang's missile tests the previous day, but there had been dissent within its ranks since the accord was struck.

The joint statement of reconciliation was signed May 17 when the leaders of the two groups held a historic meeting in an effort to end 60 years of hostilities.

"We hoped that our reconciliation would eventually serve to bridge the differences . . . between Japan and North Korea," Mindan President Ha Byeong Ok said. "But North Korea's missile launches have thrown Japanese society into anxiety and our efforts ended in failure.

"We will never forgive (North Korea's) brutal act."