TOKYO/SEOUL -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not say the issue of Japanese nationals kidnapped by North Korea has been "resolved," as had previously been insisted by Pyongyang, during his summit meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12, a senior official of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has revealed.
LDP Executive Acting Secretary-General Koichi Hagiuda made the revelation to reporters following his meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on June 13, where Abe is believed to have conveyed the content of his telephone conversation with Trump on the evening of June 12.
"It is a great step forward that the North Korean leader did not respond by saying the issue has been resolved" when Trump raised the matter with Kim during their summit, Hagiuda said. "Up until now, talks on the issue (between Japan and North Korea) hadn't gone any further than that, but it's been confirmed that we can talk more about the matter from now on," he added.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also told a June 13 press conference, "It is extremely reassuring for Japan that Mr. Trump raised the abduction issue (during the June 12 summit). Our prime minister will directly meet the North Korean leader to get things moving forward," raising his expectations for a Tokyo-Pyongyang summit meeting.
Suga also suggested that Tokyo will continue to ask Pyongyang to implement the terms in the Stockholm Agreement signed in May 2014, where both parties agreed to reinvestigate the Japanese abductees in North Korea. Suga reiterated his criticism of Pyongyang's announcement in 2016 to halt the reinvestigation, saying, "That is absolutely unacceptable."
On June 13, Prime Minister Abe met Hagiuda and local legislators from the LDP's Miyagi prefectural chapter at his office in Tokyo, where Abe emphasized that the abduction issue is "the top priority" for his Cabinet and that he is committed to having all Japanese nationals kidnapped by North Korea returned to Japan to be reunited with their family members. "I am firmly resolved to solve the issue at my own responsibility," Abe said.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Taro Kono arrived in Seoul on the afternoon of June 13 for a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, respectively, the next day. Kono was expected to be briefed about the Kim-Trump summit by Pompeo and reaffirm that Tokyo and Washington will continue to seek the "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" of North Korea.
At his press conference, Suga said, "It's not something that can be solved through just one single meeting (the U.S.-North Korea summit). We would like to take measures toward the complete denuclearization of North Korea through solid cooperation between Japan and the U.S., as well as between Japan, the U.S. and South Korea."
The joint statement released after the Trump-Kim summit talks stopped short of mentioning the elimination of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles capable of striking Japan or biological and chemical weapons held by North Korea. "It is necessary to reconfirm the complete abolition of (the North's) missiles and biological and chemical weapons during foreign ministerial talks between Japan, the U.S. and South Korea," said a senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official.
Kono, Pompeo and Kang were expected to discuss the deadline for the North's denuclearization and nuclear inspections for verification. Kono will also hold talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Blue House in Seoul on June 14.
(Japanese original by Kazumasa Kawabe and Muneyoshi Mitsuda, Political News Department)