North Korea threatened yesterday to end dialogue with Japan and issued a fresh warning of war in a furious response to Tokyo's claims that the communist state lied in a row about kidnappings. \nJapan on Dec. 25 handed to North Korean diplomats in Beijing a report concluding that Pyongyang presented false evidence including human remains in a bid to prove that eight Japanese people it abducted were dead. \nA North Korean foreign ministry spokesman, quoted by the regime's official Korean Central News Agency, said the probe findings were "peppered with words totally negating the sincere efforts" of Pyongyang. \n"Now that it has become clear that the Japanese government has openly joined the ultra-right forces in their moves against the DPRK [North Korea], it no longer feels that any DPRK-Japan inter-governmental contact is meaningful," KCNA said. \n"As we have already clarified, we are fully prepared to react to Japan's every provocation with physical strength," it said in Pyongyang's first official reaction to the Japanese findings. \nNorth Korea has admitted kidnapping 13 Japanese people up to the 1980s to train the regime's spies in Japanese language and culture. \nIt released five of them in 2002, leading Japan to offer aid, but insists that eight others are dead. \nJapan believes they are alive and likely being kept under wraps because they know state secrets. It has already cut off food aid and threatened to snap all economic links to the North -- a move Pyongyang has warned it would consider an act of war. \nThe most famous victim is Megumi Yokota, who was a 13-year-old girl returning home from school when she was whisked away in 1977. \nNorth Korea said Yokota killed herself out of depression and last month gave a visiting Japanese delegation human remains purported to prove it, along with evidence said to show seven other kidnap victims were dead. \nTokyo has said DNA tests in Japan proved the remains belonged to somebody else. \nIt issued a "strong protest" to Pyongyang and said that unless North Korea returned the abduction victims or gave a "sincere" account of their fate, Japan would be forced to give a "serious response." \nBut Japan stopped short of spelling out what measures it would take or setting a deadline for North Korea's response, amid calls from the US, South Korea and China to be cautious with Pyongyang. \nNorth Korea fired a missile over Japan in 1998 and is refusing to return to talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons ambitions. \nA newspaper poll Tuesday found that 51 percent of Japanese thought Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was too soft on Pyongyang. \nBut the Pyongyang spokesman described the Japanese protest as threatening. \nHe said Japan had "fabricated" the test results and demanded Tokyo return "remains" of Yokota and apologize. \nThe spokesman was quoted as saying North Korea "can neither accept nor admit the results and resolutely rejects them as the government reacts to our good faith with an immoral attitude."
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
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