Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday he believes his strong intention to resolve the long-standing abduction issue with North Korea will be conveyed to its leader, Kim Jong Un, after a recent Pyongyang trip by his adviser.
“It is not easy to demonstrate our resolve” to Kim, but this time “it is due to be conveyed” as the adviser, Isao Iijima, met with the country’s No. 2 leader, Kim Yong Nam, during his four-day trip last week, Abe told a Diet committee session when asked about the contentious move.
Abe denied it was beyond his expectations that Iijima’s unannounced trip, which Tokyo failed to inform its allies Washington and Seoul about in advance, much to their displeasure, would be publicized by the North Korean s.
Iijima told reporters that his visit had capped what working-level officials have been able to do about the problem — a major hurdle to forging diplomatic ties with Pyongyang.
“Working-level talks were all done. The rest depends on a decision by the prime minister and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga,” Iijima said.
He rejected the idea of the foreign ministries of the two countries aiming to restart their stalled talks on the issue. “Why do we need to negotiate? This is now only about how (the countries) think and act,” he said.
Suga declined comment on Iijima’s remarks, while repeatedly saying Japan will seek to comprehensively resolve the North Korean nuclear arms and missile issues as well as the abductions in cooperation with other countries..
A total of 17 people remain on the government list of abductees, while there are hundreds of others suspected of being kidnapped.