Kim Jong Il's Answers to Questions Raised by President of Kyodo News Service

The following press release was issued on September 16, 2002 by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Permanent Mission to the United Nation

Leader Kim Jong Il today gave answers to written questions raised by the President of the Kyodo News Service with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea near at hand.

The answers say:

Korea and Japan are geographically close countries, and they had maintained relations from olden time exchanging visits with each other. But in the past century discord and confrontation have brought the relations between the two countries to an extremely abnormal state. The abnormal relations between them that have lasted for over half a century since the end of the Second World are, in every respect, harmful to both of them. Normalizing relations between the two countries and developing goodneighbourly relations accord with the aspirations and interests of the peoples of the two countries, and it is an urgent demand of the times.

Korea and Japan are Asian nations. They should live in friendship as nearest neighbours, not as near yet distant neighbours, and promote coexistence and co-prosperity. This is our will and consistent standpoint.

The politicians of Korea and Japan are now entrusted with the historic mission to normalize the abnormal relations between the two countries. If responsible statesmen make decisions from a large point of view and get down to the task in order to realize the people's desires and interests and fulfil their noble historic mission, they will be able to find solutions to any problems existing between the two countries.

Prime Minister Koizumi will soon visit Pyongyang, and this will be a turning point in normalizing Korea-Japan relations. I welcome his visit to my country and believe that our meeting and talks will bring forth good fruits. We must open up a new chapter in the historical relationship between Korea and Japan by our common will and joint effort to improve their relations in every possible way.

The basic problem that must be solved to normalize Korea-Japan relations is to clean up the past unpleasant events that have taken place between the two countries.

If nothing is done to the history of rancour that has accumulated for a whole century, neither the normalization of state relations nor goodneighbourly, friendly relations can be realized.

Japan's settlement of past necessitates a sincere apology and due compensation that takes into full consideration the whole range of damage and sufferings it inflicted upon the Korean people. The lack of solution to these core issues has so far curbed the improvement of the bilateral relations and presented a variety of complicated problems.

The two countries are now tied up hand and foot, trapped as they are in mud slinging over minor issues, but these will be settled smoothly when bilateral relations improve and mutual confidence is built.

An end to abnormal relations will also dissipate the security concerns of the Japanese people. Apparently the Japanese people are highly nervous about our defence build-up, but our defence policy is, to all intents and purposes, geared to self-defence. Our armed forces will mercilessly deal with those who provoke us, but we will never resort to force of arms against those who do not. If Japan gives up hostility for friendship towards us, it has nothing to fear about our defence upbuilding.

Finally, as for your question about my intention to visit Japan, I think there would be no reason why I should not visit Japan so long as bilateral relations develop favourably on a normal track.