"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Announcement by the Chief Cabinet Secretary on Food Aid to North Korea

[Date] October 06, 2000
[Source] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

1. Since Japan decided on food aid to North Korea in March this year, the inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation in the Korean Peninsula have been showing rapid progress, especially after the historic inter-Korean summit meeting in June. A new trend is being born for the first time since the Korean Peninsula was divided into two, a trend which includes increasing contact by North Korea with the international community, including its participation in the ASEAN Regional Forum. The U.S., China, Russia and other countries concerned are also promoting active diplomacy with North Korea. Dynamic developments can be seen between the U.S. and North Korea, such as the visit to the U.S. by the highest military official First Vice Chairman Jo Myong Rok of the National Defense Commission from October 9 as the special envoy of Chairman Kim Jong Il.

2. Given these developments, Japan, having great interest in peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, is convinced that playing a befitting role in response to the expectations of the international community for making this positive trend more certain is in our own national interest, and accordingly the Government of Japan has tenaciously endeavored to improve the relations with North Korea while closely collaborating with the R.O.K. and the U.S. And with regard to Japan-North Korea relations, certain progress has been seen, such as the resumption of normalization talks after a seven and a half year hiatus and the resumption after two and a half years of the home visit by Japanese wives who are living in North Korea.

3. The Government of Japan has been studying, from various point of view, the possibility of extending food aid to North Korea since the World Food Programme's (WFP) announcements of September 15 and 28. The Government has decided to render food aid through the WFP to North Korea, which still faces a serious food shortage, from the broad perspective of pushing forward the above-mentioned positive trend in addition to the humanitarian viewpoint. I, Chief Cabinet Secretary, have instructed the relevant ministries and agencies to take appropriate procedures promptly.

4. In concrete terms, the Government of Japan will render food aid of 500,000 tons through this year and into next year to contribute to the WFP 2001 "Emergency Operations", which will be decided at the end of this year, in addition to the current "Emergency Operations", which started in July 1999 and have been extended to the end of this year.

According to the WFP, it is virtually certain that another 300,000 tons need to be added to the current program, and taking into account the seriousness of the damage from this year's drought and typhoon the next program will be on a scale of more than 580,000 tons, the amount of current program. Under such circumstances and taking into overall consideration of various factors, the Government of Japan judges it appropriate that Japan, with the capacity to assist, shares a substantial portion of the amount needed.

5. The Government of Japan fully understands that there is harsh opinion among the general public and also within the ruling parties against food assistance to North Korea, in particular due to the abduction issue. As mentioned above, however, the Government of Japan has now come to this decision to render food assistance from a broader perspective, to improve relations with North Korea and to maintain peace and stability in the region, given the historic new developments in the Korean Peninsula.

The Government of Japan has been making it clear that the abduction issue cannot be avoided before normalizing relations with North Korea, and there is no change in this position. The Government of Japan is determined to continue making serious and tenacious efforts to solve the various issues existing between Japan and North Korea, including the above-mentioned issue.