Tuesday, Oct 21, 2008
Japan may provide help to North Korea in scrapping its nuclear programme but it still refuses to give energy assistance because of a feud over abducted Japanese citizens, the top government spokesman said on Tuesday.
Japan has refused to contribute to the energy aid despite Washington’s decision last week to remove Pyongyang from a U.S. terrorism blacklist after the two countries agreed on the verification measures for its nuclear programme.
But Tokyo is under pressure from Seoul, which wants Japan to join South Korea, China, Russia and the United States in providing the energy aid promised under a six-way agreement to end Pyongyang’s nuclear programmes.
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“Japan will not provide energy aid unless there is progress in the abductees issue, this has been declared before,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura told a news conference.
“But in terms of the nuclear issue, Japan is contributing to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and it is possible that we will cooperate in moves taking place in such areas,” he added.
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Concerns are growing that Japan will be left behind in the six-way talks if it sticks to its tough stance over the long-simmering issue of the kidnapped Japanese.
North Korea abducted Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s. Five of them came back to Japan in 2002, but Tokyo wants information about eight more Pyongyang said it kidnapped and a further four Tokyo suspects were also victims.