As the world is still reeling from the shock announcement that US President Donald Trump could soon meet with Kim Jong-un, Japan’s top government spokesman has revealed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might soon sit down with the North Korean leader.
Abe wants to discuss the matter of Japanese citizens kidnapped by Pyongyang’s agents decades ago with Kim.
Kim is also expected to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April.
Earlier this week, South Korean envoy Suh Hoon visited Tokyo to brief Japan’s leadership on the fast-moving diplomatic process.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference:
It is important to harmonise policies closely among Japan, the United States and South Korea ahead of the North-South summit and the US-North Korea summit.
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After that, while liaising closing among the three countries, we will address how to comprehensively resolve the nuclear, missile and abduction issues. Amid that, we want to consider what would be most effective and address the issues from that perspective.
It’s thought more than a dozen Japanese nationals were abducted in the 1970s and 1980s. They were then put to work teaching North Korean special forces about the Japanese language and culture to enable them to blend in during missions to Japan.
In 2002 the then Japanese prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, meet with Kim Jong-il — the father of the current North Korea ruler — in Pyongyang where he acknowledged the country had targeted Japanese citizens and vowed that the abductions had ended.
Abe has since made the abductees issue a keystone of his political career and has previously used a telephone call with Trump to ask the US for help to resolve the issue.
Japan has also called on US support after North Korean missiles flew over its territory in 2017, sparking outrage and lifting tensions to fever pitch.
Meanwhile, Abe is facing a growing scandal at home over the sale of government land to one of his supporters, and an apparent cover-up of the deal by the finance ministry.