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A transition to watch

December 26, 2011

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who arrived on a two-day visit to Beijing on Sunday, is the first foreign leader to meet with China after the death of Kim Jong Il.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Hu Jintao prior to a meeting in Beijing
Noda wants 'vigorous information sharing' on North KoreaImage: dapd

The death of North Korea's strongman raised the subject of stability on the Korean peninsula to the top of Noda's agenda in his talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao. Both countries stood united in their belief that the denuclearization of the peninsula was in the interest of all its neighbors, Noda told Kyodo News agency in Beijing, where he met Hu on Monday.

Apart from hoping that China would take a big role in ensuring that there was no volatility in North Korea during the transition of leadership to Kim Jong Il's youngest son, Kim Jong Un, Noda urged Hu to share information regarding developments within China's secretive neighbor.

China's state news agency Xinhua reported that Hu told Noda that it was in the interest of all sides to maintain stability on the Korean peninsula. China has been restrained in its public comments on developments in North Korea, especially during the delicate period of transition.

The new 'sun'

Kim Jong Un paying respect to his father lying in state at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang
From father to son: Kim visiting Kim's coffinImage: dapd

Meanwhile, a week after Kim Jong Il's death, the campaign to establish Kim Jong Un as his successor has gained in strength as well as momentum. On Saturday, December 24, North Korean state media was referring to him as the "supreme leader" of the country’s armed forces. On Monday, Kim Jong Un was identified as head of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers' Party, giving him authority over political as well as military matters.

Rodong Sinmun, the country's main newspaper and the mouthpiece of the Worker's Party, referred to Kim Jong Un on Sunday as "the sun of the 21st century." His father, Kim Jong Il, is referred to in North Korea as the "sun" and his birthday is celebrated as the "Day of the Sun."

In the wings

Another figure drawing a fair amount of attention has been Kim Jong Un's uncle and key patron, Jang Song Thaek, who was seen in a military uniform with a general's insignia for the first time on Sunday, as he paid respects to the dead leader laid out in state. Television footage showed Jang standing to the right of Kim Jong Un in his high-collared, buttoned-down tunic which has been the standard dress of the Kim dynasty since the "eternal president" Kim Il Sung.

Author: Arun Chowdhury (dpa, Reuters, AFP, AP)
Editor: Sarah Berning

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