• Kyodo News


Japan will continue to press North Korea for concrete action to fulfill its denuclearization promises and account for its abductions of Japanese nationals, the Foreign Ministry said Friday in its annual report on diplomacy.

The Diplomatic Blue Book 2009 criticizes Pyongyang for failing to show a positive attitude and says Japan will work on resolving pending issues with China and South Korea through further dialogue and exchanges.

The report describes last year as historic for its unprecedented number of visits among top leaders and “groundbreaking progress” toward a “new dimension” of trilateral cooperation.

The report, which also criticizes North Korea for not yet acting on its promise last summer to reinvestigate the abductions of Japanese in decades past, was presented to the Cabinet on Friday amid escalating tensions in the region as Pyongyang prepares to launch a rocket, possibly Saturday. It is expected to fly over Japan.

Stressing the efforts Japan has made and acknowledging “certain progress” on the disablement of Pyongyang’s nuclear facilities, the report says, “North Korea has not shown any forward-looking attitude on establishing the concrete framework for verification . . . and has yet to begin reinvestigations on the abductions.”

The report says that by working with other countries participating in the six-party denuclearization talks and seriously approaching North Korea in bilateral dialogue, Japan will continue to demand that Pyongyang “take concrete action to resolve the various issues, including the abductions.”

On other issues, Japan hailed the deepening of relations with Beijing and Seoul in 2008, noting that five mutual visits took place between Chinese and Japanese leaders, and four bilateral summits were held with the South Korean president.

But the report notes major issues that remain between Japan and China, including the intrusion of Chinese surveillance vessels into Japanese territory near a disputed area in the East China Sea, and unresolved friction over food poisoning in Japan related to tainted dumplings imported from China.

Regarding China’s continued increases in its defense spending, the report calls for further transparency.

The full text of the blue book in Japanese will be accessible on the ministry’s Web site and the print edition will go on sale at bookstores in early May.

An English summary will be made available, although the ministry has no plans to provide a full English translation, citing a lack of demand, according to a ministry official.

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