Japan and China to Keep North Korea in Check

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Sunday that he and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will work together to promote stability in North Korea after the death of longtime leader Kim Jong Il.

The body of Kim Jong Il lies in state in the North Korean capital Pyongyang. Photo: John Wah/Flickr

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda also urged Chinese President Hu Jintao to share information about developments in North Korea, where the succession of Kim’s youngest son, Kim Jong-un, has fanned speculation about who will really control the secretive one-party state and its nuclear program, Reuters reported on Monday.

“It is important that we will not let the death of the chairman of the National Defense Commission Kim have a negative impact on the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula,” Noda was quoted by a Japanese official as telling Hu while on a visit to in Beijing.

Noda emphasized the need to get the stalled six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program back on track.

“We are currently facing a new situation in East Asia,” said Noda, who came to power in September. “Safeguarding the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula is in the common interest of our two countries.”

The six-party talks, which include the two Koreas, the United States, Russia, China and Japan, are aimed at disarming North ­Korea of its nuclear capability. Pyongyang walked out of the talks in 2009 but now wants to re­engage, according to The Washington Post.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda met with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday, wrapping up his trip to Beijing to discuss cooperation between the two countries, CNN informs.

“The two sides believe that maintaining peace and stability of the Korean peninsula serves the common interests of all parties,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters Monday. “The two sides are ready to make concerted efforts to realize peace and stability of the Korean peninsula.”

Noda, in his first visit to Beijing since taking power in September, is the first foreign leader to visit with China’s leaders since Kim’s death. Both sides touched on the importance of resuming the six-party North Korean nuclear talks in an effort to promote the long-term stability of the region

China is the North’s only major ally and the North has long relied on China for diplomatic and economic support.

“China is ready to make joint efforts with all relevant parties, including Japan, to maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and to achieve lasting peace, security and order on the peninsula and (in) northeast Asia,” Chinese state news agency Xinhua cited Hu as saying.

Noda urged China to be forthcoming about what it learned about the North’s transition.

“I would like vigorous information sharing between Japan and China, and intend to address the situation calmly and properly,” the Japanese official cited Noda as telling Hu on the second and final day of his visit.

Kim’s death was announced by Pyongyang on December 19 and has put the region on edge, as the world waits to see how North Korea’s succession will play out.

In an effort to improve North and South relations, an 18-member civilian delegation of South Korean citizens arrived in Pyongyang on Monday to express condolences after the death of the Kim, North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.

North Korea has alarmed the region with two plutonium-based nuclear test blasts, a succession of military altercations, and declarations that it was developing uranium enrichment, which could open another path to assembling atomic weapons.

Constraining North Korea is especially important for Japan, which is within range of the North’s missiles and wants it to resolve the issue of the fate of Japanese citizens kidnapped and taken to North Korea to help train spies decades ago.

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