Trump-Kim summit

Japan PM Shinzo Abe thanks Donald Trump for raising North Korea’s abductions with Kim Jong-un

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan will engage with North Korea to resolve the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by the North decades ago

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 June, 2018, 5:45pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 June, 2018, 5:45pm

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed the joint statement signed by US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore as a first step in the denuclearisation of North Korea.

“We see this as a step in a comprehensive resolution,” Abe said in Tokyo after he spoke by phone with Trump.

Japan wants North Korea to agree to a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation. In the joint statement Kim committed North Korea “to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”.

Abe added that he “would like to thank the president (Trump) for raising the abduction issue,” referring to Japan’s demand that Pyongyang release any remaining Japanese people it abducted to train its spies.

“I’m determined that Japan will have to directly face North Korea and resolve (the abduction issue) bilaterally.”

Tokyo has long sought to return its nationals kidnapped by Pyongyang in the 1970s and 1980s.

“I brought it up absolutely and they are going to be working on that,” Trump said at a news conference following his historic summit with Kim, when asked whether the abduction issue came up during their meeting.

Read the full Trump-Kim joint statement: US, North Korea agree to work towards ‘complete denuclearisation’

He added: “We didn’t put it down in the document but it will be worked out,” referring to the joint statement signed by the leaders and released after their meeting.

The statement did not touch on human rights in North Korea, including the abductions of Japanese citizens.

Abe has made resolving the abductions a top priority of his administration.

Japan officially lists 17 citizens as abduction victims and suspects North Korea was involved in many more disappearances.

Five of the 17 were repatriated in 2002, with Pyongyang maintaining that eight had died and four others never entered the country.

Japan and North Korea agreed in 2014 that Pyongyang would reinvestigate the fate of all of the abductees.

But the North later disbanded the investigation panel and effectively abandoned the bilateral accord.

The decades-old issue remains a stumbling block for Japan and North Korea to normalise diplomatic ties.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono earlier said the abduction issue was something that Japan and North Korea will eventually have to deal with by themselves.

Kono plans to visit South Korea from Wednesday for talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is accompanying Trump to Singapore, and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.

Reuters, Kyodo