N. Korea seeks reparations from Japan for World War II

Saturday, September 14, 2002

The Washington Post

TOKYO -- North Korea's leader is seeking an estimated $10 billion in World War II reparations in his historic summit with Japan's prime minister on Tuesday to bolster his impoverished nation, according to officials and analysts here.

Japan reluctantly accepts that it will have to pay approximately that much to North Korea if diplomatic relations grow out of next week's trip to Pyongyang by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Japan likely would balk at calling it reparations and would spread the payments over years through economic assistance, according to analysts and government sources.

North Korea, which has seen most other sources of foreign currency dry up, desperately needs economic aid.

The $10 billion figure is approximately equivalent -- adjusted for inflation -- to the compensation package Japan made to South Korea in 1965 when they established diplomatic ties. Japan has long assumed an equivalent deal must be reached with North Korea. The Korean Peninsula split into North and South Korea after World War II.

Koizumi is not expected to write a check at the summit --"It's too early," said a government source.

In return for concessions, North Korea will be seeking from Japan an apology for World War II, diplomatic recognition for the first time since the north's creation in 1948, help in talks with the United States, and the first installments of wartime compensation.

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