North Korean officials have reiterated their demand for compensation for Japanese use of Korean “Comfort Women” during World War II.
In addition to North Korea’s continued pursuit of reparations for Korean women taken as sex slaves by the Imperial Japanese Army in WWII, this month’s talks will also address the DPRK’s nuclear program and Japanese citizens abducted by the DPRK in the 1970s and ’80s.
This will be the first such high-level meeting between the two countries since talks were stalled in late 2012 following a North Korean long-range missile test.
“Our goal is to properly settle outstanding issues of both sides,” said Ryu Song Il, a North Korean official in charge of Japanese affairs at the North Korean foreign ministry. “I believe it is important that relations between the two countries can be improved soon.”
This opinion was not completely endorsed by So Se Pyong, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva.
“From Japan they just said that the abduction case is not solved yet, but we said that case is fully solved, there is not any problem for that,” he said.
“Instead, we are asking Japan to compensate (for) their crimes, such as the 8.4 million people abducted into Japan during the colonial time and not only that but also some of the Comfort Women case also should be solved.”
North Korea had previously admitted its abduction of 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s, to be used to advance its spy program.
So also insisted that the DPRK would continue to “strengthen its nuclear deterrence as long as the U.S. antagonistic policy toward the DPRK remains unchanged.”
Over the past week, North Korea has conducted four separate short-range rocket and long-range missile tests, in an apparent response to the joint military exercises underway in the region between the United States and South Korea.
So defended the various launches into the Sea of Japan as a proportionate response to the military drills.
“During that military exercise they are doing, if we are doing nothing then who knows what will happen? So we are doing that kind of exercise, also that is normal and that is the usual exercise,” he said.
Japanese officials have commented that North Korea’s latest missile tests would not affect the upcoming talks.
Compensation for the annexation was addressed in the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea. This treaty normalized relations between South Korea and Japan in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and grants from Tokyo, but most of this was used for the South’s economic development and none went to the North.
Picture: UN Geneva, Flickr Creative Commons
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