Press Conference by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
After the Japan-North Korea Meeting
May 22, 2004
The primary purpose of my second visit to North Korea was to reconfirm with Mr. Kim Jong-Il, the Chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea the extreme importance for both our countries of sincerely implementing our joint declaration, the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, which was announced almost two years ago, on September 17, 2002. I decided to venture to revisit North Korea with the intention of holding talks from a broader perspective on the need to normalize current abnormal relations between Japan and North Korea, moving from hostile relations between the two countries to friendly relations, and from confrontational relations to cooperative relations, and on how these changes would be most beneficial for both Japan and North Korea. Chairman Kim and I shared frank opinions in our meeting and we both reconfirmed that the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration is the basis for Japan-North Korea relations.
With regard to the abduction issue, five family members of the Hasuike and Chimura family are to return to Japan with us today. I have also discussed with Chairman Kim the issue concerning Mr. Charles Robert Jenkins, the husband of Ms. Hitomi Soga, and their family. Chairman Kim commented that he would leave the decision up to Mr. Jenkins and further that he himself does not wish for the family to live apart. Given the situation that Mr. Jenkins himself does not necessarily wish to return to Japan, I discussed the matter with Mr. Jenkins in person. After the meeting with Chairman Kim, I talked with Mr. Jenkins and Ms. Soga's two daughters for about an hour. Nonetheless, Mr. Jenkins expressed his strong reluctance to go to Japan at this point. Therefore, I openly shared with him what Chairman Kim had suggested during our meeting on the possibility of arrangement for Mr. Jenkins and their daughters to meet with Ms. Soga in Beijing if he is reluctant to go to Japan. I further proposed the idea that the four-Mr. Jenkins and their two daughters in North Korea and Ms. Soga in Japan-meet in a third country such as Beijing in China, where they could take time to discuss the matter among themselves if Mr. Jenkins was completely against going to Japan. Then, Mr. Jenkins agreed to this, and I have received confirmation from Ms. Soga in Japan through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of her agreement to the plan. Given that, I will make sure that an opportunity is arranged for the four members of the family including Ms. Soga, Mr. Jenkins and their two daughters to meet again at the earliest date possible.
Regarding the issue of abductees whose whereabouts are unknown and others who are missing, I have requested that Chairman Kim make a commitment to immediately conduct a full-scale reinvestigation as their family members in Japan believe that they are still alive. I was able to receive Chairman Kim's agreement in this matter. With regard to the nuclear and missiles issues, I have conveyed to Chairman Kim the essential need for a complete dismantlement of nuclear weapons and the need for international inspections. Chairman Kim stated that his goal is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and that North Korea intends to make efforts toward a peaceful resolution through the Six-Party Talks. On missiles as well, Chairman Kim reconfirmed that North Korea will maintain a moratorium on missile test launches.
I stated that as long as the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration is observed, Japan will not invoke sanctions on North Korea. I announced the provision of 250,000 tons of food aid and US$10 million in pharmaceutical supplies from Japan as humanitarian assistance measures to be provided through international organizations. I expect the authorities directly in charge to make full preparations and arrangements between themselves to hold discussions towards the resumption of talks on normalization of relations between Japan and North Korea.
I will keep to my strong expectation that my visit to North Korea this time will serve as a turning point for realizing the normalization of relations between Japan and North Korea.
Questions and Answers
Question: With regard to the abduction issue, while the return to Japan of the five family members of the abductees is an extremely positive outcome, the issue of Mr. Jenkins has emerged and also you said a reinvestigation into abductees whose whereabouts have yet to be confirmed was agreed. Assuming the concerns the families of those people may have that this issue could possibly be put off, could you tell us once again of your resolve to endeavor to realize a complete clarification of the abduction issue?
Prime Minister Koizumi: Given the intention expressed by the North Korean side to conduct a full-scale reinvestigation, the Japanese side will also participate for a thorough investigation. The North Korean side is willing to cooperate in such efforts so it cannot be said in any way that the issue has been neither "put off" nor "shelved." Japan and North Korea will endeavor to produce a result at the earliest time. We also have requested thorough cooperation from the North Korean side.
Question: At the same time as the return to Japan of the family members of the abductees was decided, it was announced that the Japanese government would provide humanitarian assistance, including food aid, to North Korea. This is expected to raise the possibility of criticism or opinions being leveled that Japan is providing humanitarian assistance in compensation for the return of the family members of the abductees. How would you respond to such criticisms?
Prime Minister Koizumi: Whatever the issue, I think there are always some kinds of criticisms. We will be implementing humanitarian assistance based on the requests of international organizations. Considering that this assistance will be implemented through international organizations, it cannot be said that it is in anyway a form of compensation or payback. The United States is also implementing humanitarian assistance, as is the Republic of Korea. On humanitarian assistance, Japan seeks to fulfill its appropriate responsibilities in the international community.
Question: I would like to ask about the nuclear issue. Chairman Kim stated that he would make efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue through the Six-Party Talks at the core. However, at the recent working group, the situation was still mired in confrontation. Please tell us of your outlook on this issue.
Prime Minister Koizumi: With regard to the nuclear issue, I impressed strongly upon Chairman Kim that the complete dismantlement of nuclear programs would not only enhance the safety of the world and be appreciated by the international community, but would greatly be in the interest of North Korea. Chairman Kim stated that freezing of nuclear programs will be accompanied by verification, a statement which I valued. Chairman Kim also stated the goal of denuclearization, and I responded by suggesting that such an intention of making the first steps towards dismantlement of nuclear programs should be announced more forcefully at the Six-Party Talks. From Japan's perspective, I urged Chairman Kim to consider the amount of assistance North Korea would receive by maintaining nuclear weapons in the areas of energy, food and/or medicine, for example, which is small in scale. I suggested that Chairman Kim consider what could be gained through the dismantlement of nuclear programs, namely in assistance from the international community, and that assistance would be provided not only by one country. I explained to Chairman Kim that the difference in aid that could be expected with North Korea still maintaining its nuclear programs and if it were to dismantle them, was like the difference between heaven and earth. I strongly urged Chairman Kim to give all those things a good deal of thought and not miss the chance to be welcomed into the international community, which is what would happen if North Korea were to dismantle its nuclear programs. I believe I gained his understanding for the most part concerning this issue. However, it seems that Chairman Kim doubts whether North Korea's security could be completely guaranteed if its nuclear programs were to be dismantled. On this point, I stated that North Korea's security could be further assured by the dismantlement of the nuclear programs and the Six-Party Talks was arranged for such discussions. I called on Chairman Kim to fully utilize the Six-Party Talks for consultations including the dismantlement of nuclear programs and North Korea's own security. I strongly urged Chairman Kim not to miss this chance, but to seize it firmly.
Question: I think it is the case that your visit to North Korea took great political conviction. Do you consider that the results of today's visit measure up to this great political conviction? About the normalization talks, I would like to ask if you have a time scale in mind for the conclusion of normalization between Japan and North Korea?
Prime Minister Koizumi: I cannot make any definite statements on the time of conclusion of normalization of relations between Japan and North Korea, but efforts towards that end must be continued. On this visit, we reconfirmed the importance of the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration and saw agreement in moving to create a mutually trusting environment. In this sense and overall, I think my second visit to North Korea today was significant.
Question: It appears that Mr. Jenkins and his and Ms. Soga's two daughters have strongly resisted coming to Japan. Could you tell us what the reasons the three gave to you today for their reluctance to come to Japan, and how you attempted to allay their concerns?
Prime Minister Koizumi: I spoke with them for a period of approximately one hour, and therefore I cannot go into detail here. However, in short, it would be that Mr. Jenkins is strongly concerned that if he were to come to Japan he would be handed over to the United States. In addition, he has also seen a variety of press reports, and even when I explained to him that I would make maximum efforts for his family to all live together if he were to come to Japan, Mr. Jenkins did not seem to be convinced. In addition, the two daughters repeated that they had completed all their studies in North Korea, and that although they strongly want to meet their mother, they first want her to return to North Korea before they go to Japan. After such talks, we finally came upon the possibility of meeting in Beijing, which was a proposal welcomed by Mr. Jenkins and that being the case; we undertook to make such a meeting possible.
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