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Former lawmaker Shizuka Kamei has announced a planned trip to North Korea in May for talks with a “top leader.”

Kamei, once an independent Lower House member who formerly served as financial services minister, revealed the plan Tuesday on a TV program, saying he has been consulting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about the trip.

Kamei said Pyongyang would give priority to Japan over China or Russia if Tokyo provides economic assistance as part of efforts to resolve the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.

Japan officially lists 17 of its citizens as having been abducted by North Korea, and suspects the country’s involvement in other disappearances.

Five of the 17 were returned to Japan in 2002, but North Korea maintains that eight have died and the other four were never in the country.

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