Japan and the United States will refuse to view North Korea as a nuclear power when six-way disarmament talks resume, Japan's foreign minister said on Monday.
"We have agreed on three points on the North Korean issue. The first is that we will not recognise North Korea as a nuclear power," Taro Aso said after talks with visiting US undersecretary of state Nicholas Burns.
The other two points are that Japan will not loosen its sweeping sanctions on North Korea and that the six-way talks are only "a way to reach the objective of North Korea abandoning nuclear weapons," Aso said.
North Korea agreed on October 31 to return to the disarmament talks after a year-long gap, just weeks after carrying out its first nuclear test.
North Korea on Saturday urged Japan to stay away from the talks, calling its leaders "political imbeciles," after Aso made similar remarks saying Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal was not a fait accompli.
Burns called the North Korean statement "extraordinary" and said the United States believes Japan is "one of the most important partners" in the six-way talks.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also said on Monday that Japan would take part in the talks.
"There is absolutely no change to Japan's stance," Abe told reporters.
Government spokesman Yasuhisa Shiozaki said Japan was "in total agreement with others" to stay in the talks.
"There is no way we will let them return to the process as a nuclear power," Shiozaki, chief cabinet secretary, told a news conference.
The negotiations, which began in 2003 in Beijing, are aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program in exchange for economic incentives and security guarantees.
Japan would likely be asked to help bankroll any potential deal reached during the six-nation talks.
But Japan has used the negotiations to press North Korea over its past abductions of Japanese nationals, infuriating Pyongyang and causing unease for other countries at the table.
The talks bring together North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.