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Comments from the Secretary-General on the Summit Meeting Between Japan and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

September 17, 2002

At the historic first summit meeting held today between Japan and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), Prime Minister Koizumi took a firm stand on a number of issues of critical importance not only to Japan, but to the entire world. As such, I believe that his actions are most certainly deserving of high praise. In the course of his discussions with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, Prime Minister Koizumi demanded that Japan be provided with information concerning the whereabouts and safety of all Japanese citizens suspected of having been abducted in the past by North Korean agents. He also expressed his views on the issue of North Korea's uses of nuclear energy and its missile development program. Finally, the Prime Minister stressed the need in the interests of world peace and security in Asia for North Korea to act as a responsible member of the international community.
  In response to this, Kim Jong Il confirmed that 11 Japanese had in fact been abducted by North Korean agents. He also explained that regrettably, only 4 of the 11 remain alive. I think it is particularly notable that in conveying this information, Kim apologized and expressed his intention to take steps to ensure that incidents such as this are not allowed to occur again. At the same time, I am deeply distressed and saddened by the thought of how the families of those abductees who have died must now feel. With this in mind, I believe it is extremely important that a complete resolution to this problem be pursued during negotiations on the normalization of diplomatic relations.
  While some progress can be seen to have been made on the issues of nuclear energy and missile development, I think it is necessary, in close cooperation with the United States and South Korea, to advance discussions among countries with interests in the security of Northeast Asia and to devise effective measures for the maintenance of stability in this region. In addition, it is my understanding that we have been given assurances that the problem of suspected North Korea spy ships operating in waters surrounding Japan, which has long plagued bilateral relations, will also be eliminated.
  In order to assess the sincerity of the promises that Kim Jong Il has made and to enable Japan as well to work diligently to improve relations between Japan and North Korea, Prime Minister Koizumi agreed to the resumption of negotiations on the normalization of diplomatic ties. The sound political judgement and efforts of the Prime Minister in this regard are undoubtedly worthy of our strong and enthusiastic support.

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