• Kyodo

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The government asked former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to visit North Korea in early January and offer Japan’s condolences over the death of Kim Jong Il, hoping to improve bilateral relations, but he rejected the proposal, government sources said Saturday.

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan thought the gesture might lead to the resumption of stalled bilateral talks, and its executives sounded out the former Liberal Democratic Party leader, the sources said.

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