Kim family chef says North Korea's rocket launch meant to honor late leader Kim Jong Il

A Japanese man who served as a chef to the North Korean leadership and visited the country earlier this year says a rocket launch planned for this month is meant to honor the late leader Kim Jong Il.

Kenji Fujimoto, Kim's personal sushi chef from 1988-2001, said Thursday that he believes the late leader's son and successor, Kim Jong Un, was backing the launch to show respect for his father.

Fujimoto said that despite its apparent determination to defy international appeals against the rocket launch, Pyongyang wants better relations with the West.

Fujimoto settled in Japan after leaving Pyongyang and has written several memoirs. He visited North Korea for several weeks last summer, saying he was fulfilling a promise he had made to the younger Kim before he left.