Drastic changes appear to be taking place in Noth Korea as its leader, Kim Jong II tackles three difficult issues: who will succeed him, how to deal with the new more conservative govvernment in South Korea, and how to normalize the nation’s strained relations with Japan. The reigning Korean Workers’ Party is making appointments and dismissing officials at a rather high rate and the person who apparently is in charge of these actions, is Kim Johng Choi, second son of Kim Join II. The son appears to be following in the footsteps of his father who also was placed in charge of purging those not deemed trustworthy. Senior officials in the North Korean government are trying to circumvent Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in order to establish positive relations with Japanese government officials.
A key issue is the failure of North Korea to accept responsibility for kidnapping Japanese citizens in past years. Until that issue is resolved, North Korea will experience difficulty winning over many politicians in Japan. North Korea also has to resolve issues pertaining to its atomic energy program and support of terrorists in other parts of the world.