Tokyo authorized and is in charge of the surprise trip to Pyongyang by special adviser Isao Iijima, a senior government official indicated Wednesday, while Cabinet members all remained tight-lipped in public amid speculation the government hopes to resume direct talks with North Korea to resolve the abduction issue.

Experts speculated, however, that Pyongyang might have lured Iijima to the North on Tuesday as part of a ploy to drive a wedge in Japan's alliance with South Korea and the United States against the North's nuclear and missile threats.

Iijima, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's top aide when he made two trips to Pyongyang and returned home with five abductees, reportedly plans to meet high-ranking North Korean officials by the end of this week.