Japan recently asked North Korea to hold high-level talks next Monday or even earlier, following their first intergovernmental talks in four years held last week, sources close to the matter said Saturday.
The move came after officials agreed during the Aug. 29-31 working level talks in Beijing to meet again soon, except with higher-level officials.
While North Korea has not responded to the request, Japan is seeking to make progress on the abduction issue before Sept. 17, which will mark the 10th anniversary of the Pyongyang Declaration, which called for efforts to normalize diplomatic ties between the two neighbors.
North Korea is asking Japan to send low-level officials to their first governmental talks in 4 years that are set for next week.
Red Cross officials from Japan and North Korea have been seeking the cooperation of both governments in returning the remains of Japanese who died at the end of World War Two in the north of the Korean Peninsula.
In response, government negotiators from Tokyo and Pyongyang agreed to hold bilateral negotiations in Beijing next Wednesday. Both governments are now making arrangements for procedural matters.
The Japanese are proposing that officials at the director general-level hold talks. They say negotiators should hold the highest-level positions possible.
North Korea had at one point hinted at agreeing to the proposal, but now is claiming that negotiators need not hold positions higher than division chief.
Japanese Foreign Ministry sources say the North Koreans may be trying to raise the level of the talks in stages after waiting to see how Japan responds.
Japanese officials hope to make progress on returning the remains as well as other unresolved bilateral matters, including the North’s past abductions of Japanese nationals.
North Korea defied international warnings of censure and further isolation on Friday, launching a rocket that the United States and its allies called a provocative pretext for developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that might one day carry a nuclear warhead.
But in what was a major embarrassment to the North and its young new leader, the rocket disintegrated moments after the launching, and American and Japanese officials said its remnants fell harmlessly into the sea.
After hours of silence, North Korea’s state-run news media announced that the satellite the rocket had been carrying “failed to enter its preset orbit.” Scientists and technicians were “looking into the cause of the failure,” said the terse statement from the reclusive North Korea leadership, which had trumpeted the event as a showcase of patriotic pride meant to exalt the 100th anniversary of the birthday of the country’s founder, Kim Il-sung, grandfather of the new leader, Kim Jung-un. Only two days earlier, North Korea had elevated the grandson to the highest levels of state power.
North Korea has reportedly begun fueling a rocket for a launch next month, defying calls to abort an event the West says is a disguised missile test, as the US suspended planned food aid.
“The launch is coming closer. The possibility is high that the launch date will be set for April 12 or 13,” Japan’s Tokyo Shimbun reported yesterday, quoting a source “close to the government” in Pyongyang.
It cited the source as saying that North Korea had begun injecting liquid fuel into the rocket.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda used his opening speech at the summit to say the international community strongly demands North Korea exercise self-restraint on next months planned rocket launch.”
The planned missile launch North Korea recently announced would go against the international communitys nuclear non-proliferation effort and violate U.N. Security Council resolutions,” Noda said.
No other major leaders mentioned North Koreas nuclear ambitions or the ballistic missile launch which the Pyongyang says will carry a weather satellite into orbit. The West says the launch is a disguised test of a long-range missile designed to reach the American mainland.
Japan may deploy land-based and sea-based interceptor missiles ahead of North Koreas planned rocket launch next month and has not ruled out shooting down the rocket if it violates Japanese airspace, according to defense officials and media reports.
Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka said Wednesday that Japan is considering how to respond to any contingencies caused by the launch, including mobilizing destroyers and deploying mobile missile launchers to areas near the rockets planned trajectory.
North Korea has said it plans to launch a satellite into orbit. Japan, the United States and other countries claim it is also seeking to test the capabilities of its long-range missiles, in violation of international agreements.
Japan picked Lockheed Martin’s F-35 jet as its next mainstay fighter on Tuesday, choosing the aircraft over combat-proven but less stealthy rivals, as concern simmers over North Korea and as China introduces its own stealth fighters.
The decision came as Japan and the United States stressed that their security alliance was tight in the face of worry about an unstable North Korea after the death of its leader, Kim Jong-il.
Defence Minister Yasuo Ichikawa said the decision to buy 42 of the stealth aircraft, valued by analysts at more than $7 billion, would help Japan adjust to a changing security environment after Monday’s announcement of the death of the 69-year-old North Korean leader.
There are no noisemakers and no one does the wave, yet football fans in North Korea are passionate in their own way about the team that has become a symbol of national pride.That pride will be at stake Tuesday when North Korea faces Japan at Kim Il Sung Stadium in a much-anticipated World Cup qualifier that promises to be about far more than just football.Four of the North Korean players, including star striker Jong Tae Se, were born into ethnic Korean communities in Japan, and bitterness still runs deep over Japan’s 35-year occupation of Korea, which ended in 1945.
PYONGYANG, North Korea – A team of Japanese doctors arrived Tuesday in North Korea to examine victims of the 1945 atomic bombings of Japan, a trip that may help improve dismal ties between the countries.
Footage from Associated Press Television News in Pyongyang showed the doctors being greeted at the airport by North Korean officials. The doctors from the Hiroshima Prefectural Medical Association are expected to be in North Korea until Saturday.
Relations between the two countries are badly frayed. Japan has maintained a tight trade embargo on North Korea since Pyongyang conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.