TOKYO — North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il was against a third-generation succession of power but named his youngest son as the next leader to ensure national stability, his eldest son told a Japanese newspaper.
In a rare interview published Friday, Kim Jong-Nam, who has lived abroad for years after apparently falling out of favour with his father, also called on his half-brother, the heir apparent Kim Jong-Un, to improve North Koreans' lives.
"Hereditary succession did not happen even under Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong," the 39-year-old told the Tokyo Shimbun in a 90-minute interview conducted earlier this month in southern China.
"(Hereditary succession) does not fit socialism and my father was against it," he said in comments translated into Japanese.
"I understand that it was done in order to stabilise the framework of the nation," he said. "Instability of North Korea will lead to instability of the surrounding region."
Kim Jong-Il, 68, is seen as setting up the transfer of power to his third son Jong-Un, who is believed to be 27 and who accompanied his father on about one-fifth of his excursions last year.
In September Jong-Un was made a four-star general and given senior posts in the ruling Workers' Party. Since then, he has been frequently listed or pictured accompanying his father.
North Korea's leader, who is said to be in poor health, himself took over in the impoverished nation from his father and founding president Kim Il-Sung after his death in 1994, in the communist world's only family succession.
Jong-Nam, who occasionally grants short interviews to Japanese press, reiterated that he had no interest in politics or succeeding to power in North Korea.
He has previously told other Japanese media that he was personally opposed to a dynastic succession in North Korea.
Jong-Nam said his "heart aches" when hearing about the harsh living conditions suffered by poverty-hit North Koreans. "I cannot believe people's lives are improving," he said.
"The currency redenomination (in 2009) was a failure. North Korea should pay attention to reform and openness. If it continues like this, it cannot become an economic power.
"What the North desires the most is the normalisation of ties with the US and settlement of peace on the Korean peninsula."
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