Japan urges China to help keep North Korea in check

Mon Dec 26, 2011 2:12am EST
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By Kiyoshi Takenaka

BEIJING (Reuters) - Japan urged China on Monday to shoulder a big role in ensuring North Korea avoids volatility after the death of its leader, Kim Jong-il.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda also urged Chinese President Hu Jintao to share information about developments in North Korea, where the succession of Kim's youngest son, Kim Jong-un, has fanned speculation about who will really control the secretive one-party state and its nuclear program.

"It is important that we will not let the death of the chairman of the National Defense Commission Kim have a negative impact on the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula," Noda was quoted by a Japanese official as telling Hu while on a visit to in Beijing.

Kim Jong-il's many positions included head of the important military commission.

"Under these circumstance, the role of China, which is the chair country of the six-party talks and has a big influence on North Korea, is extremely important," said Noda, according to the official who briefed reporters but declined to be identified.

The so-called six-party talks involve the two Koreas, China, Japan, the United States and Russia and are aimed at getting North Korea to give up its efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

The Japanese prime minister is the first regional leader to visit China since Kim Jong-il's death was announced a week ago.

China is the North's only major ally and the North has long relied on China for diplomatic and economic support.   Continued...