DATE=4/5/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=JAPAN / NORKOR TALKS (L-O) NUMBER=2-260963 BYLINE=HYUN-SUNG KHANG DATELINE=SEOUL CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: North Korea and Japan have begun talks aimed at establishing diplomatic ties. Hyun-Sung Khang reports from Seoul that North Korea has demanded Japan pay compensation for its past rule of the Korean peninsula. TEXT: Communist North Korea wants an apology and compensation for Japan's harsh colonial rule between 1910 and 1945. North Korea's chief negotiator to the talks made the demand while outlining Pyongyang's position at the beginning of three-days of discussions. The North Korean media joined the campaign for compensation, calling for Tokyo to - liquidate its past. The issue is likely to be a major sticking point between the two sides. Before the talks began, the Japanese representative signaled that his country is prepared to state its regret for its colonial record, but will reject demands for compensation. One major issue for Japan in this week's talks is North Korea's missile program. Japan is looking for an assurance that the reclusive North will bring the program to a halt. Tokyo angrily broke off contacts with Pyongyang for more than a year after the North fired a medium-range ballistic missile over Japanese territory in 1998. Japan is also likely to press the case of 10 of its citizens who were allegedly kidnapped in the 1970's and 1980's by North Korea. It is believed the 10 were to be used to train spies about everyday life in Japan. The last full-scale rapprochement talks between the two sides collapsed more than seven-years ago, when Tokyo raised the issue of its missing citizens and protested against Pyongyang's suspected nuclear arms program. As this round of talks began, negotiators acknowledged there are huge hurdles ahead. The discussions are going forward despite the change of leadership in Japan. Former Japanese Prime Minister, Keizo Obuchi played a significant role in bringing the two countries to the negotiating table. According to a Japanese official, the North Korean representative wished Mr. Obuchi, who is in a coma, a speedy recovery. He acknowledged that the former prime minister had worked hard to improve North Korean-Japanese relations. (SIGNED) NEB/HSK/FC/RAE 05-Apr-2000 07:42 AM EDT (05-Apr-2000 1142 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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