TOKYO – Japan will not join other countries in giving aid to North Korea despite an agreement to disable its main reactor by year's end, Japan's foreign minister said Wednesday, citing an ongoing dispute over past abductions by the communist regime.
In a sign that Tokyo will keep its hard-line stance against Pyongyang, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura also told reporters that Japan had no intention of lifting its economic sanctions on the North.
"There will be no immediate action from Japan. We will wait to see what North Korea does next," Komura said. "Japan's policy remains unchanged. We will consider aid once we see progress on the abductions issue," he said.
North Korea agreed Wednesday to provide a complete list of its nuclear programs and disable its facilities at its main reactor complex by Dec. 31, according to a statement released Wednesday by the six nations involved in disarmament talks.
In return, the North is set to receive 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil or other assistance.
Tokyo has refused to provide such aid, however, unless Pyongyang accounts for its abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 80s — a main sticking point for the two countries, which have no diplomatic ties.
North Korea admitted in 2002 that it kidnapped 13 Japanese citizens and sent five of them home, saying the remaining eight were dead. Japan has demanded proof of the deaths, and says more of its citizens may have been taken.
Japan also closed its ports to the North's ships and banned the import of North Korean goods after the country exploded an atomic device last year.