Author: Harriet Agerholm
Posted on: The Independent | March 13th, 2018
Tokyo insists abductions by Pyongyang must be part of any discussions
The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is “considering” holding a summit with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, according to a Japanese government source, in what would be another significant step towards rapprochement in the region.
Japan would like to use the meeting to discuss the citizens abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s, the source said. He declined to be identified because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
A spokesman for the prime minister’s office made no immediate comment, but earlier Mr Abe told South Korean National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon Japan wanted any demilitarisation talks with Pyongyang to address the abductions.
He also said North Korea had to show its willingness to disarm.
“A resolution of the abduction, nuclear and missile issues is Japan’s core policy,” Mr Abe said.
“North Korea must match its words with actions.”
The abductions have become a keystone of Mr Abe’s political career. He has said he will not rest until all 13 of the people North Korea admitted to kidnapping were returned and the isolated state divulged information about the others Japan suspects were taken to train North Korean spies.
Mr Abe’s insistence that the abductions be included in any North Korean talks may be a source of friction with South Korea, which has struck a more upbeat tone in its recent interactions with the North.
Signs of easing between the North and South began during the Winter Olympics last month, when Pyongyang sent a high-level delegation to the South for the games.
Japan taken a more cautious approach, calling for “maximum pressure” on the North and warning “talks for the sake of talks” were unacceptable.
Mr Abe has called the North Korean crisis the toughest security issue faced by Japan since the Second World War. His firm stance has won him support at home.
Mr Abe has previously used a telephone call with Donald Trump to ask the US for help to resolve the abduction issue. He said he aims to meet Trump in the United States next month.