Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura on Sunday warned against North Korea's drive to divide Japan and the United States following a dramatic turn in Washington-Pyongyang ties last week.
The U.S. action to remove North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism dealt a blow to Japan as the country counted on a hard U.S. stance against North Korea for diplomatic leverage to settle the long-standing issue of the North's abductions of Japanese nationals.
The thaw in U.S.-North Korea ties is likely to force Japan to perform a balancing act in the six-nation framework, joining a multinational bid to talk North Korea into abandoning its nuclear arsenal and getting tough with it bilaterally on the abduction issue.
"North Korea's biggest tactics is to estrange Japan from the United States and divide them," Komura said on NHK.
But neither Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda nor U.S. President George W Bush would "follow it to please North Korea," he added. "What is necessary is that Japan and the United States cooperate in dealing with North Korea."
Japan has been left in a dilemma as it has been using the delisting issue as leverage to pressure the North to resolve an emotionally charged row over Japanese nationals kidnapped by Pyongyang agents.
The development came amid media speculation here in recent weeks that Bush might meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il if and when they attend the Aug 8 opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
The weekly Shukan Bunshun, the daily Nikkan Gendai and other media have reported China invited Kim to attend the ceremony and that plans were afoot to arrange an unprecedented U.S.-North Korean summit.
North Korea admitted in 2002 that it abducted Japanese civilians in the 1970s and 1980s to train its spies in Japanese culture and language.
It has since returned five victims and their families and earlier declared the case was closed as all other kidnap victims were dead.
Japan has insisted that there are other kidnap victims who are alive but kept in the North possibly because they knew secrets of the reclusive communist state.© Wire reports