TOKYO, October 28 – North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il is likely in hospital but is still capable of making decisions, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said Tuesday, citing intelligence reports.,
Aso told a parliamentary committee on foreign policy that Japan has "information that he is probably in hospital."
"Anyway, his condition isn’t good. But we don’t think that he’s in a state where he’s incapable of making any decisions at all," Aso said.
"Our understanding is that if that were the case, we would be seeing different developments," he said without elaborating.
The state of Kim’s health and the question over who would succeed him has been a topic of intense speculation since he failed to appear at a key anniversary parade in early September.
US and South Korean officials say the 66-year-old recluse is believed to have suffered a stroke.
Japan’s Fuji Television on Monday showed footage of a French brain surgeon who it said was personally recruited by Kim’s eldest son to treat him.
Aso said he was aware of the report.
"We also know that the French doctor flew to Beijing soon" after he met with son Kim Jong-Nam in Paris, Aso said.
Aso declined to give further details on Kim’s health.
"We get information from many sectors in this area," Aso said, without specifying which country had provided the intelligence report.
Aso, an outspoken conservative and critic of North Korea, took office last month. He has frequently faced charges during his career that he is not careful about his public remarks.
North Korea threatened Tuesday to turn South Korea into "debris" in an unusually strong statement that demanded Seoul halt what the communist state called its policy of confrontation.
It was issued amid worsening relations between the Koreas, with the North angry about anti-Pyongyang leaflets floated across the border by activists and defector groups based in the South.
"The puppet authorities (Seoul) had better bear in mind that the advanced pre-emptive strike of our own style will reduce everything… to debris, not just setting them on fire," the North’s military said.