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To cope with the growing number of diplomatic tasks concerning the Korean Peninsula, the Foreign Ministry plans to split its Northeast Asia Division into two sections on July 1 to create a new division dedicated solely to North Korean affairs, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference Tuesday.

It is rare for a ministry division to be focused only on the affairs of a single country.

The First Northeast Asia Division will deal with South Korean issues and the Second Northeast Asia Division will be in charge of North Korean affairs, a Foreign Ministry official said.

“Work related to the Korean Peninsula has dramatically increased,” Suga said. “We need to strengthen Japan-South Korea cooperation and efficiently cope with nuclear and missile development and abduction issues involving the North.”

Currently, the Northeast Asia Division, which deals with both South and North Korean issues, employs about 30 officials. The total workforce will be boosted at a later date, the ministry official said.

On April 6, Foreign Minister Taro Kono told a news conference that the ministry had planned to split the division into two in the summer, partly because the workload of officials in charge of North Korean affairs had “abnormally increased” in recent months.

“The current division is reaching the limits of what it can handle as a single entity,” Kono said at that time.

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