News

DATE=10/21/98 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-240509 TITLE=JAPAN / NORTH KOREA KEDO (L-ONLY) BYLINE=STEVE HERMAN DATELINE=TOKYO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT SAYS IT IS READY TO LIFT ITS FREEZE ON FUNDING TO AN INTERNATIONAL PROJECT THAT IS DESIGNED TO HELP NORTH KOREA BUILD LIGHT-WATER NUCLEAR REACTORS. TOKYO SUSPENDED ITS FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AFTER PYONGYANG, WITHOUT WARNING, LAUNCHED A ROCKET WHICH FLEW OVER JAPAN. STEVE HERMAN REPORTS FROM TOKYO THAT THE DECISION TO RESUME THE PAYMENTS FACES POLITICAL DEBATE IN JAPAN. TEXT: JAPAN HAD VOWED TO SUSPEND ITS ONE BILLION DOLLAR CONTRIBUTION TO THE KOREAN PENINSULA ENERGY DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION UNTIL PYONGYANG OFFERED AN EXPLANATION OF WHY IT LAUNCHED THE ROCKET ON AUGUST 31ST. FOREIGN MINISTRY SOURCES IN TOKYO SAY THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT WAS PRESSURED BY WASHINGTON AND SEOUL TO LIFT THE FREEZE QUICKLY, TO HELP MAKE A SUCCESS OF THE FOUR-WAY TALKS UNDERWAY IN GENEVA ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA . THE TALKS, INVOLVING THE UNITED STATES, CHINA AND THE TWO KOREA'S, ARE SEEN AS THE BEST WAY OF EASING TENSIONS ON THE PENINSULA, WHICH HAS BEEN DIVIDED SINCE 1945. THE TOKYO GOVERNMENT'S DECISION COMES AMID CONTINUING ANGER AMONG JAPANESE OVER THE ROCKET LAUNCH, FIRST BELIEVED TO BE A BALLISTIC MISSILE TEST, WHICH PYONGYANG SAID WAS THE LAUNCH OF A SATELLITE. NO MATTER WHAT IT WAS, THE JAPANESE SEE IT AS A THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY BY A NEIGHBOR WITH WHICH JAPAN HAS NO DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS. OPPOSITION POLITICIANS IN PARLIAMENT ARE EXPECTED TO FIERCELY ARGUE AGAINST APPROVING THE FUNDING FOR THE ORGANIZATION. THE PROJECT IS VIEWED BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY AS THE BEST WAY TO KEEP NORTH KOREA FROM MAKING NUCLEAR WEAPONS. IT IS BELIEVED THAT IF THE NUCLEAR ENERGY PROJECT FUNDING IS NOT IN PLACE, NORTH KOREA WILL NOT BE WILLING TO NEGOTIATE OTHER MATTERS AT THE GENEVA TALKS. (SIGNED) NEB/ SH/GC/FC 21-Oct-98 7:01 AM EDT (1101 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .