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Japan may soon recognise N. Korea as a state

AFP, The Straits Times, 21 September 2000

TOKYO -- Japan may formally recognise North Korea under its drive to normalise ties with the communist state, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hidenao Nakagawa said yesterday.

Recognising North Korea as a state is an issue which will be considered and decided in the process of Japan-North Korea normalisation talks based on various circumstances, Mr Nakagawa told a regular press conference.

As the normalisation talks proceed, it would be a natural diplomatic conclusion to reach, he said.

Japan-North Korean relations are currently in an abnormal state.

Strictly speaking, Japan has yet to recognise North Korea as a state as we have not exchanged ambassadors, he added.

Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori has said that he hoped to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in a bid to push normalisation talks.

Japanese and North Korean officials ended an inconclusive 10th round of talks on setting up diplomatic ties in Japan in late August.

The two sides agreed to meet again next month, but remain divided over key issues including Pyongyang's demand that Japan compensate for its brutal 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula.

Japan has in turn pressed for news on the fate of 10 Japanese nationals which it says have been abducted since the 1960s by North Korean agents to be trained in local customs.

The Japan-North Korea drive was revived in April in Pyongyang after a break of 7-1/2 years amid a flurry of North Korean diplomatic activity. --AFP