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Japanese Leader Warns North Korea to Observe Nuclear Agreements - 2002-10-18

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Friday that North Korea must observe international agreements on nuclear and other issues if it wants normal ties with Japan. The leader's comments came during a policy speech at the start of a new parliamentary session.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told Parliament that North Korea's nuclear weapons program will by a key issue during bilateral talks on establishing diplomatic ties.

In an announcement that shocked the world, Washington said Wednesday that North Korea had admitted to secretly developing nuclear weapons, in violation of a 1994 agreement with the U.S.. Under that pact, North Korea was to freeze its weapons program. The U.S. and its allies in return would build two light-water reactors for North Korea, financed mainly by South Korea and Japan.

Japan and North Korea are slated to open discussions on normalizing ties on October 29, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Mr. Koizumi said the major prerequisite for progress in the talks is that the principles and spirit of the Pyongyang declaration between Japan and North Korea be sincerely observed.

Mr. Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il signed the Pyongyang declaration on September 17, at a landmark summit in the North Korean capital. In it, the two leaders agreed to follow all international treaties, in search of a comprehensive solution to the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula. They agreed on the need for dialogue to resolve all security matters, including nuclear and missile issues.

Japanese and U.S. officials are expected to hold further discussions about North Korea Sunday, when U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly comes to Tokyo. Mr. Koizumi says he will keep in close contact with the United States, South Korea and other countries during the normalization talks.

In his policy address, the Japanese leader also pledged to resolve Japan's most pressing domestic concern: the slumping economy. He said he will take bold steps to revitalize the economy, which is struggling with deflation and low consumer confidence, plus a banking sector riddled with bad loans. The stock market is hovering near a 19-year low.

Mr. Koizumi said he is determined to accelerate his reform plans and that the government will soon unveil an anti-deflation package. He says his administration and the central bank will work together to stabilize the financial system and the economy.

The prime minister did not say if he would submit an extra budget during this session of parliament. Japanese leaders have often used supplementary budgets to boost public spending, but Mr. Koizumi apparently hopes to avoid this old and unsuccessful formula for economic revival.