N.Korea denounces Tokyo attitude as 'plot'
TOKYO - North Korea on Sunday called recent Japanese moves to change its defense policy a plot to "reinvade" it and said Tokyo had joined with the United States in a hostile policy against it.
The accusations, carried by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), came a day after Japanese and U.S. cabinet officials met in Washington and expressed "deep concern" over North Korea's refusal to negotiate over its nuclear arms programs.
Japan in December unveiled a revamped defense policy that suggested a shift from the purely defensive posture in place since World War II and saw a larger Japanese role in global military cooperation, along with a better response to terrorist and missile attacks.
The new policy outline reflected concern about the threat Japan claims to come from North Korea, which shocked Japan in 1998 when it launched a ballistic missile over Japan.
"The military threat touted by the Japanese militarists is a far-fetched allegation fabricated by themselves," said an editorial in the North Korean Communist Party daily Rodong Sinmun carried by KCNA.
"They have joined in the U.S. vicious hostile policy toward the DPRK and its moves to stifle it, and, therefore, the situation of the Korean peninsula has reached the worst phase," the editorial added, but gave no further details.
North Korea said last week that it had nuclear weapons to deter a hostile United States and that it was withdrawing from six-party negotiations on its nuclear arms programs.
In a joint statement issued on Saturday after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld met Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura and Defense Minister Yoshinori Ohno, the two nations urged North Korea to return unconditionally to the six-nation talks that also involve China, South Korea and Russia.
"The Secretary of Sate and the Japanese Foreign Minster made clear their deep concern over the (North Korean) statement," they said in a special communique.
If the talks completely collapse, the parties would consider unspecified "measures," Rice said at a news conference, a possible reference to calls by hard-liners in the administration of President Bush for North Korea to face possible U.N. sanctions.
Three rounds of talks on Pyongyang's nuclear arms programs have already taken place, but North Korea has for months resisted international pressure to resume them.
A senior Chinese Communist Party official held talks in North Korea on Saturday, the latest in a flurry of efforts to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table, but North Korea showed no signs of budging.