North Korea Want Japan to Apologize for War Crimes
North Korea’s ceremonial head of state urged Japan to apologize for its wartime aggression, dismissing Tokyo’s request for the release of Japanese nationals kidnapped by the North, a news report said.
“It is vital for Japan to settle its past if it wishes to improve relations with [North] Korea,” Kim Young-Nam said in an interview with Kyodo News in Pyongyang.
Japan occupied the Korean peninsula from 1910 until 1945.
The issue of the North’s abduction of Japanese nationals “has already been settled”, he added.
“Without apologizing for its past crimes, Japanese leaders have misled public opinions with the abduction issue and used it as a card to remain in power.”
Secretive North Korea admitted in 2002 its agents kidnapped Japanese people in the 1970s and 1980s to help train spies by teaching Japanese language and culture, and later allowed five of them and their families to return home.
It said another eight died, though many in Japan hold out hope they remain alive. There are also suspicions that Pyongyang’s agents abducted more Japanese people than was admitted.
Japan and North Korea, which have no diplomatic ties, resumed talks in August for the first time in four years, and are now studying when to hold and what to discuss at the next round of talks.
Tokyo calls for including the abduction issue among agenda items for the planned talks, but Kyodo said Kim Young Nam’s remarks hinted that talks are now uncertain because Japan regards the abduction issue as a top priority.
Kim Young Nam acts as head of state because the country’s late founding leader Kim Il-Sung has been declared “eternal president”. The impoverished but nuclear-armed North is led by Kim Il- ung’s grandson Kim Jong Un.
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