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LEAD: N. Korea dismisses hope kin of abductees come to Japan early.

PYONGYANG, Oct. 1 Kyodo


A senior North Korean diplomat on Tuesday dismissed the idea that the family members of Japanese abductees repatriated last year would visit Japan any time soon and reiterated Pyongyang's criticism of Japan on the issue.

Pak Ryong Yon, deputy chief of the North Korean Foreign Ministry's Asian bureau, also highlighted Pyongyang's demand that Tokyo pay compensation for past incidents against Koreans as well as providing economic aid as a condition for establishing diplomatic ties between the countries.

It was the first time this year that North Korea's diplomatic authorities have responded to interview requests by Japanese media.

The issue of North Korean agents abducting Japanese nationals in the late 1970s and early 1980s ''has been settled,'' Pak said in reiterating the basic North Korean position despite its agreement in August to continue discussing the issue along with other bilateral issues.

''Japan should return the victims (of North Korean abductions) unconditionally as agreed to between the two governments,'' he said. ''We cannot accept the demands of the Japanese government without confirming the wishes of the parents and children.''

He also brushed aside the possibility the families will meet in a third country, saying, ''We will not engage in horse trade.''

Tokyo has demanded that Pyongyang allow the family members of the five Japanese kidnapped by North Korean agents in 1978 and repatriated last October to come to Japan.

North Korea has accused Japan of changing its policy to keep the five in Japan after what was initially supposed to be a short homecoming. But it agreed in a meeting in late August in Beijing to continue discussions on the issue.

Regarding incidents during Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, Pak repeatedly urged Tokyo to compensate individual victims.

''The issue of individual damage should be resolved apart from economic cooperation,'' he said. ''Unless Japan clarifies, apologizes and compensates for past acts against humanity, we cannot normalize diplomatic ties.''

Japan settled the issue of wartime compensation with South Korea and other Asian nations by committing economic assistance and has refused other forms of redress.

Although Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il agreed on economic aid in their landmark summit last September in Pyongyang, bilateral talks to normalize diplomatic ties have been stalled since the two sides clashed over the abductions issue.

North Korea has recently intensified calls for Japan to pay compensation for wartime incidents.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Oct 6, 2003
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