North Korea says Japan should not attend six-party talks on the communist country's nuclear program.
A foreign ministry spokesman said Saturday that Japan is just a territory of the United States and therefore has no need to attend the talks.
He was quoted by the official news agency, KCNA, as saying Japanese officials are "political imbeciles."
Japan has been active in getting United Nations sanctions passed against North Korea after Pyongyang said it conducted a nuclear test in October.
North Korea agreed this week to return to the six-nation talks following intense diplomatic pressure. It had boycotted the talks for a year to protest a U.S. crackdown on its international finances.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a radio interview Friday that the United States wants concrete action at the talks.
She said North Korea is returning to the talks under considerably different circumstances because of the U.N. sanctions.
The Washington Times reported Friday that the Pentagon is stepping up its contingency planning for possible attacks against North Korea.
When asked about the report, Rice reiterated that the United States has no intention of attacking North Korea. A state department spokesman stressed that the United States is on a diplomatic path.
The negations with North Korea include South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia. The talks have been stalled for the past year.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters