Opening Statement by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at the Press Conference on the Outcome of his Visit to North Korea
Pyongyang, North Korea, September 17, 2002
Today, during my meetings with Chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission Kim Jong-Il, I was able to find out about the Japanese nationals in the issues of abduction. However, I am pained to my very core when I think of those who were unable to come back to Japan and have passed away. I am at a loss for words when I think of the feelings of the bereaved family members.
Today, I came to Pyongyang with the resolve that such a case must never again be allowed to occur, aiming to make a great stride forward in building a stable peace for this region.
I had honest discussions and exchanged views with Chairman Kim Jong-Il. For my part, I focused in particular on two points.
First of all, Japan is prepared to take a serious approach to the normalization talks. However, in order to proceed with normalization, it is necessary that North Korea take a sincere approach towards various outstanding issues, beginning with the issues of abduction of Japanese nationals as well as those concerning security.
Second, North Korea should further advance dialogue with the United States, the Republic of Korea and the rest of the international community for the peace and stability of the Northeast Asian region. In particular, regarding the issues of abduction of Japanese nationals and security issues, I strongly urged Chairman Kim Jong-Il to take a decision. The results of our discussions are as follows.
The issue of abduction is a vital matter directly linked to the lives and safety of the Japanese people. At the meeting information was disclosed related to the incidents of suspected abductions and I protested strongly to Chairman Kim Jong-Il. Chairman Kim Jong-Il honestly acknowledged that these were the work of persons affiliated with North Korea in the past and offered his apologies, expressing his regret. He stated that he would ensure that no such incidents occur again in the future. I intend to arrange for meetings with family members of those surviving and to do my utmost to realize their return to Japan based on their will.
I stated that there must be no more cases of unidentified ships. Chairman Kim Jong-Il responded that it was thought to be the work of certain elements of the military authorities and that he intended to look into the matter further and take appropriate measures to ensure that no such case ever occurs again.
The suspicion of nuclear development is a matter that is of concern to the international community. During our meetings, Chairman Kim Jong-Il made it clear that all relevant international agreements would be adhered to. What is important is that North Korea act on its promises.
The issue of missiles is of grave importance to the security of Japan. We confirmed that we would resolve the missile issue through dialogue and Chairman Kim Jong-Il stated that he would freeze all missile launchings without any time limit.
I pointed out to Chairman Kim Jong-Il that Japan has long since stressed the importance of providing a venue for dialogue among the nations concerned in the region and Chairman Kim Jong Il indicated his understanding of this matter.
Regarding the settlement of past issues, we have agreed to undertake discussions along the lines of Japan's standpoint.
Still, this does not mean that we have resolved the various issues outstanding between Japan and North Korea. There continue to remain grave concerns. However, I made a judgment that we have got a prospect that the resolution of various issues will be advanced in a comprehensive manner. As such, I decided to relaunch the negotiations for normalization in order to make sure that various issues are resolved.
Furthermore, I intend to launch security talks between Japan and North Korea on security issues relating to the safety of Japan and the Japanese people, including the issue of unidentified vessels and the issues of abduction of Japanese nationals, as well as regional security issues. I intend for that to be a forum for seeking to resolve the various issues so that our people can live under a more secure environment.
Chairman Kim Jong-Il stated that the doors are always open for dialogue in relations between North Korea and the United States of America. He stated that he hoped that Japan would convey that to the United States.
Regarding North-South relations, Chairman Kim Jong-Il stated that cooperative relations are progressing smoothly.
I intend for Japan, the United States, the Republic of Korea and other nations concerned to maintain close contact and relieve tensions on the Korean Peninsula with a view to creating peace throughout this region.
I believe that as long as the principles and spirit of the Japan-North Korea Pyongyang Declaration are sincerely abided by, relations between Japan and North Korea will begin to make great strides from hostile relations to cooperative relations. I believe that it is in the national interest of Japan to dispel any concerns between Japan and a nearby nation such as North Korea and thereby build cooperative relations that would not threaten each other, and I feel that it is the duty of the Government to do so.
In this, I ask for the understanding and cooperation of all. Thank you for your attention.
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