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In a joint statement issued Saturday, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and President Roh also agreed not to allow North Korea to possess or develop nuclear weapons and to resolve the issue peacefully and diplomatically. Relations between the two nations have improved markedly over the past year, thanks in part to their successful cohosting of the soccer World Cup 2002.

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Until recently President Roh was largely an unknown quantity for most Japanese. This can be expected to help set the tone of bilateral relations, at least during Mr. As expected, North Korea's nuclear program has proven to be a most difficult issue.

It is welcome, therefore, that the Tokyo meeting has established a personal relationship of trust between Mr. And that is where delicate differences between Tokyo and Seoul came to the surface. Koizumi pointed out the need to apply "a certain amount of pressure" to facilitate dialogue.

Policy coordination is also needed to take joint action to stop North Korea from developing and exporting missiles, and from selling drugs abroad.

In this regard, it is worth noting that the recent Group of Eight summit in France called for a package resolution of the nuclear and abduction issues. Roh's visit has also given an impetus to cultural exchanges between our two countries.

Roh called on the Japanese government to enhance people's awareness of its war-time history so that the two countries could exorcise the ghost of Japanese militarism.

"We have to face the past squarely," said the South Korean president.

It says only that the two nations will "strengthen cooperation by confirming the principles agreed upon in their summit meetings with the United States." North Korea, however, must not misread the message from the Tokyo summit, which is that Japan and South Korea, together with the United States, will not make compromises that reward Pyongyang's misbehavior.

The nuclear issue needs to be discussed in detail at the forthcoming session of the Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group.

This international opinion should be reflected in the U. For that, the talks should be attended also by Japan and South Korea, which are directly exposed to threats from the North. Particularly welcome, from the standpoint of enhancing mutual understanding, is his decision to lift additional South Korean restrictions on imports of Japanese pop culture.

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