Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
Japanese and Mongolian media report that the DPRK-Japan intergovernmental talks held during 15 to 16 November (Thursday and Friday) in Ulan Bator ended with an agreement to continue negotiations, as yet unscheduled, in Beijing. The DPRK-Japan interactions in Ulan Bator consisted of senior working-level officials. The DPRK delegation was led by Ambassador-at-Large Song Il Ho and the Japanese delegation was led by Shinsuke Sugiyama, Director of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs. The interactions, which totaled approximately 11 hours, unfolded at the Ikh Tenger state guest house and complex in Ulan Bator.
According to Kyodo World Service, on the first day of the talks, the Japanese delegation made its presentation in the morning meeting focused on the 1970s abductions of Japanese nationals by DPRK operatives, the return of Japanese women who accompanied their Korean husbands to the DPRK in the 1960s and the extradition to Japan of a group of Red Army Faction operatives who hijacked JAL Flight #351. During the afternoon session, the DPRK delegation made its presentation in which it talked about the repatriation of the remains of Japanese citizens killed during annexation and the Second World War. Shinsuke Sugiyama told Kyodo that the “content rich” discussions encompassed “wide-ranging issues” and were “sincere” and “straight forward.”
The second day of discussion focused again on the 1970s abductions, as well as the DPRK’s call for reparations from Japan for the 1910-1945 annexation of the Korean Peninsula. The discussions ended with an agreement for cooperation on the repatriation of the remains of Japanese nationals who died in the DPRK during the Second World War. The DPRK and Japanese delegations agree to resume their interactions in Beijing “as soon as possible.” The DPRK and Japanese delegations also agreed to include a general discussion of the DPRK’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Shinsuke Sugiyama told Japanese reporters, “We did not reach complete negotiations, but agreed to continue the dialogue ‘as soon as possible’. Although the consultation itself is not an easy matter, both sides have exchanged views sincerely. The atmosphere of the meeting was not acerbic. It was direct, serious and very rich in substance. We discussed a wide range of subjects in depth. Moreover, a major focus of attention was on whether North Korea would agree to put the abduction issue on the table, as the country has always maintained the issue has been resolved, though North Korea promised to proceed with further discussions, which made one step forward on the disputed matter lasts years.” Kyodo reported, citing Choson Sinbo, that Song Il Ho said the talks took place in “a sincere mood” and reported that the 2002 Pyongyang Declaration “is a marker that leads toward improving bilateral ties.”
After the DPRK-Japan talks ended on 16 November, each side held separate meetings with Mongolia’s Foreign Minister Luvsanvandan Bold. On 16 November, Shinsuke Sugiyama met with Bold at the Government House in Ulan Bator. According to the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Mr. Sugiyama expressed his heartfelt thanks to the Government of Mongolia for hosting the talks in Mongolia and said this initiative is a significant contribution made by Mongolia to ensuring the stability in Northeast Asian region. The two countries have wide opportunities for taking joint actions to maintain peace and security at both regional and international levels besides advancing the relations and cooperation on bilateral scale, he added” and “The sides noted the mutual high level visits and activities implemented in the light of the 40th anniversary of Mongolia-Japan diplomatic relations and in recent years as a whole are of a great importance for enhancing the Strategic Partnership between the two states and for deepening mutual understanding and confidence of the two nations and re-affirmed the mutual aspiration to forward bilateral relations and cooperation.”
On 17 November (Saturday) Song Il Ho met with Luvsanvandan Bold. According to the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Mr. L.Bold said he is impressed that the DPRK and Japan governmental delegations are meeting in Mongolia under the aegis of the President of Mongolia, Mr. Tsakhia Elbegdorj and thanked North Korea for supporting the initiative of Mongolia to organize the meeting. Minister L.Bold expressed Mongolia’s interest in forwarding traditional friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries not only at the regional, but also at the international levels” and that “the sides agreed that the Ulaanbaatar meeting would make a contribution to ensuring peace and stability in Northeast Asia.” Song Il Ho “extended sincere thanks to the Government of Mongolia for hosting the talks in Mongolia which is important not only for improving relationship between DPRK and Japan, but also for upgrading friendly ties and cooperation between DPRK and Mongolia.