Japan has resumed negotiations with North Korea on the abductees issue, but further missile tests by Pyongyang could undermine Tokyo's assurances that the process will not impair coordinated action with the U.S. and South Korea to curb the North's weapons programs.

Washington and Seoul have expressed support for Tokyo's push to resolve Pyongyang's abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s as a humanitarian issue. But it is unknown whether they will back Japan's negotiations with North Korea if the country takes increasingly provocative steps, such as launching a long-range ballistic missile that could hit the United States, or conducting a fourth nuclear test.

After Japan eased its sanctions on July 4 in return for launching a new round of investigations on the abductee issue, Pyongyang has fired short-range ballistic missiles in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.