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North Korea says Japan requested summit with Kim Jong Un

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said high-level talks with North Korea are “important to resolve issues,” such as the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea decades ago.

North Korean state media (KCNA) reported Monday that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida recently proposed a bilateral summit with leader Kim Jong Un, according to a statement by Kim’s sister and senior official, Kim Yo Jong. 

However, Kim Yo Jong added that any meeting would be contingent on a policy shift by Tokyo, accusing Japan of “antagonizing” North Korea. 

“The prime minister should know that just because he wants to and has made a decision, it doesn’t mean he can, or the leadership of our country will meet him,” the statement said. 

“If Japan … makes a political decision to open a new path for improving ties based on mutual respect and respectful behavior, it is my view that the two countries can open a new future,” it added.  

Japan’s cooperation with South Korea and the US on containing North Korea’s weapons program remains a source of tension, as does the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea in the 1970s and ’80s. 

The US has already stated that it would “welcome” dialogue between Japan and North Korea and that Washington will continue its own efforts to communicate with Pyongyang, even though such initiatives have been firmly rebuffed by the North.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was the last Japanese leader to visit North Korea in 2002 and 2004. 

During the 2002 summit, North Korea admitted that it sent agents to kidnap 13 Japanese citizens who were then used to train spies in Japanese language and customs.

However, campaigners in Japan insist the real number of kidnapped is well over 100. After the 2002 meeting, North Korea allowed five abductees to return to Japan that year. Many in Japan hold out hope that some of the abductees may still be alive, and the issue remains important politically for Kishida’s government. 

What has Japan said? 

On Monday, Kishida told parliament that top-level talks are “important to resolve issues such as the abduction issue.” 

“This is why we have been making various approaches to North Korea at the level directly under my control, as I have said in the past,” he added. 

Kishida said he was not aware of the KCNA report, and did not directly comment on its contents. 

In her statement, Kim Yo Jong said that North Korea is willing to improve its relations with Japan, but warned that there will be no breakthrough if Kishida’s government continues to raise the issue of abduction of Japanese citizens to North Korea. 

Source: Dw

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