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Ethnic Koreans in Japan agree to cooperate

May 17, 2006 at 4:57 AM

TOKYO, May 17 (UPI) -- Top leaders of pro-Seoul and pro-Pyongyang Korean residents' groups in Japan met for the first time Wednesday in Tokyo to end half a century of enmity.

Ha Byung Ok, leader of the pro-Seoul Korean Residents Union in Japan, or Mindan, held talks with So Man Sul, leader of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryon, Wednesday morning and issued a joint statement promising to increase cooperation, Kyodo News reported.

The groups agreed to co-host an event in Japan on Aug. 15, the anniversary of the liberation of the Korean peninsula from Japanese rule in 1945, and to send representatives to the South Korean city of Gwangju in June to mark the anniversary of the North-South summit in 2000.

The groups also agreed to promote ethnic education and culture to maintain the Korean identity of some 600,000 permanent residents in Japan. The number is falling by 10,000 per year, largely due to marriages with Japanese citizens, the report said.

The innovative moves are in line with calls by South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il for reconciliation at their summit meeting in June 2000.

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