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Saturday, Nov. 1, 2008
Nakasone raps report on North
By JUN HONGO
Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone on Friday denied media reports that North Korea has no plan to reinvestigate its abductions of Japanese nationals.
According to media reports, a North Korean official told a Chinese counterpart that Pyongyang will not reopen its probe into the abductions because doing so would bring no advantage to the hermit state.
The report said China notified Japan of North Korea's decision.
Nakasone denied the report during a news conference, saying the government has not received any notification and does not plan to check with the Chinese government.
"We urge North Korea to open a full-scale investigation," he said, restating the government's position. He added that Japan is ready to lift its sanctions if the North abides by its pledges.
Pyongyang had agreed in August to create a committee to reinvestigate the abductions in return for Tokyo's lifting some of its sanctions against the North.
But North Korea changed its position after Yasuo Fukuda resigned as prime minister in September.
While Nakasone denied reports that the North had decided to close the investigation, he acknowledged there has been no progress in resolving the issue since the August meeting.
He said the government has not received any response from Pyongyang over the creation of the committee, and no date has been set for the next round of six-party talks on North Korea's denuclearization.
Citing the North's failure to come clean on its past abductions of Japanese nationals, the foreign minister hinted Japan could tighten its sanctions.
"We must continue to consider the balance of dialogue and pressure," he said.
Japan extended its sanctions against North Korea last month and bans port calls by North Korean-registered vessels and all imports from the country.