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Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008
Chongryon chief says Japan must compensate North Korea
By JUN HONGO
Japan needs to compensate North Korea for its wartime aggression before ties with Pyongyang can be normalized, Ho Jong Man, head of the Chongryon group of North Korean residents in Japan, said Monday.
Ho also said the confusion caused by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's sudden resignation announcement is "regrettable."
His remarks came during a speech at a party in Tokyo to mark the hermit state's 60 years of independence from Japan. The North won its independence on Sept. 9, 1948, after more than three decades of Japanese colonial rule.
But despite the festive atmosphere, Ho spent most of his 12-minute speech criticizing the West over recent developments.
Regarding Pyongyang's going back on its pledge to dismantle a nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, Ho stated that the United States "has become an obstacle in the six-party talks" for not proceeding with removing North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.
"Allowing the U.S. to treat North Korea like Iraq and freely conduct house searches (on the North's nuclear facilities) goes against our original agreement," he said.
Ho's speech came after Tokyo received notice that Pyongyang will postpone setting up an investigative committee to probe its abductions of Japanese nationals.
Foreign Ministry officials had expressed hope that the 60th anniversary of North Korea's independence would accelerate the probe, as Tokyo in return offered to lift its ban on charter flights between the two countries.
But the North dispelled such optimism, announcing Friday it would not create an investigative committee until the next prime minister has been installed and the new administration's agenda on North Korea becomes clear.
Chongryon is also known as the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan.