• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s close campaign adviser, Isao Iijima, said Sunday that he believes Japan and China might hold summit talks soon.

“I think a summit will be held in the not-so-distant future,” Iijima said in a speech in his hometown of Tatsuno in Nagano Prefecture.

Iijima told reporters he discussed the possibility of talks between Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping with Xi’s close associates during a four-day visit to Beijing through July 16.

Iijima denied making contact with North Korean officials while in Beijing. Iijima’s cover was blown in May during what was supposed to be a secret visit to Pyongyang for talks with senior North Korean officials. Instead, the North televised the whole thing, revealing Japan’s attempt to circumvent the six-party denuclearization talks involving South Korea and the United States.

On the abduction issue, Iijima said he believes Japan needs to engage in dialogue with the North and apply pressure to the reclusive country to help resolve the issue. He said Japan and North Korea can come closer to resolving it if Abe holds talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, rather than working-level negotiations.

The issue of the abductions in the 1970s and 1980s remains a key stumbling block to normalizing diplomatic relations between Japan and North Korea.

Iijima also said he believes Abe does not need to reshuffle his Cabinet following the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s resounding victory in the Upper House election, noting that it’s far too soon for a reshuffle since it was set up in December.