Yet, it had a huge historic meaning
This month brought a lot of news for Koreans. There was a conciliatory match between the football teams of South and North Koreans, the agreement between two military delegations pertaining to the connection of national railways, and, finally, the Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited North Korea. This visit was the first such visit ever. Each of these events is likely to show a lot of influence on the fates of both the Korean peninsula and the whole Far Eastern region.
PRAVDA.Ru wrote about the first two of those sensational pieces of news. This article will be devoted to the third one. It is really a special event, and it is definitely more important than any summit, which basically take place every day.
A photograph that depicted the leaders of Japan and North Korea showed that the leaders were keeping aloof from each other. Even their clothes showed that. Neither the arrival, nor the departure of the high-ranking Japanese official was marked in Pyongyang with a guard of honor, as is the custom with other guests. The reason why is very simple: there are no official diplomatic relations between North Korea and Japan. Eleven stages of negotiations on the subject ended with no results at all.
The most serious problem was the issue of the past. The countries can not settle scores with each other. Korea had thousands of people killed and tortured during the Japanese colonial domination (1910-1945). Japan has eleven of its citizens missing in North Korea since 1945. Japan agreed to acknowledge its colonial domination on the Korean peninsula and to claim responsibility for the yearning that was caused to the Koreans. Yet, Japan would not acknowledge the fact that it unleashed the aggressive war. This way, Japan is deviating from paying reparations. However, Japan concocted a compromise: to settle the issue by means of rendering economic help to North Korea. It transpired in the Western media that these “reparations in disguise” could take the form of ten billion dollars.
The historic visit did not last even for a day. Needless to mention, Koizumi and Kim Jong-il did not discuss all mutual problems during two stages of their negotiations. Bascially, there was no need for that. The major thing here is that there is a beginning. This beginning can be clearly seen in the text of the Pyongyang declaration, which was signed by the two leaders. This document of four paragraphs mentions:
1. Both sides decided to exert all efforts to establish diplomatic ties at an early date on the basis of the spirit and main principle laid down in the declaration and resume the negotiations on opening them within October, 2002.
2. The Japanese side honestly admitted the historical facts that it had inflicted huge damagses and suffering upon the Korean people during its past colonial rule over Korea and keenly reflected on and sincerely apologized for them.
3. Both sides confirmed their will to observe international law and refrain from threatening mutual security. In regards to the pending issue concerning the life and security of Japanese nationals, the DPRK side declared that it would take proper measures to prevent the recurrence of such regrettable things, a product of the abnormal relations between the DPRK and Japan.
4. Both sides affirmed their will to cooperate with each other to preserve and consolidate peace and stability in northeast Asia.
China’s People’s Daily believed that Koizumi’s visit to North Korea was also motivated with Kim Jong-il’s contacts with Russia. The newspaper found two motives in the actions of the Japanese premier: the wish to join the project of the railway connection, and to balance Russia’s growing political and economic influence on the Korean Peninsula.
The mentioned eleven stages of negotiations between N.Korea and Japan took place in different cities: in Pyongyang, in Tokyo, and in Beijing. Progress could be seen only after Moscow joined the talks. This is not only an issue of international prestige. This implies huge political and economic benefits for Russia, and these benefits totally coincide with the interests of the two Koreas.
Andrey Krushinsky PRAVDA.Ru Beijing
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov