Nakai may hold rare talks with senior North official

Kyodo

A former state minister in charge of the North Korean abduction issue may meet with one of Pyongyang’s senior officials in Mongolia this weekend, several government sources said Thursday.

Veteran Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Hiroshi Nakai, head of the Lower House Budget Committee, is considering attending the meeting Saturday and Sunday, the sources said.

However, the abduction of Japanese by the North’s agents during the 1970s and 1980s probably would not be high on the agenda, as Pyongyang considers the issue fully resolved, they said.

Instead, the two are more likely to discuss issues concerning the return of Japanese women who moved to the reclusive state with their North Korean husbands during a so-called repatriation project that began in 1959, the sources said.

The extradition of Japanese wanted in the hijacking a Japan Airlines flight in 1970 also could be on the agenda, they said.

Nakai’s previous contact was Song Il Ho, North Korea’s ambassador for bilateral normalization talks, but who he would negotiate with this time around remains a mystery.

Customarily, chiefs of Diet standing committees do not travel overseas while the legislature is in session, and Nakai has yet to apply to go on a foreign trip, the sources said.

Nakai’s office declined comment on his possible visit to Mongolia.

In January, Nakai and Song made secret contact in China, just a few weeks after Kim Jong Un became North Korea’s leader, succeeding his late father, Kim Jong Il.