• Kyodo


Japan plans to maintain maximum pressure on North Korea to make it abandon its nuclear weapons and missile programs in close coordination with the United States, government officials said Sunday.

The government scrambled to gather information to help it understand what is behind U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent back and forth on the potential summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

Over the weekend Trump and Kim, respectively, expressed their readiness to meet on June 12 as originally planned, after days of conflicting signals from both sides.

“It’s hard to predict (what will happen). We need to prepare for all possibilities,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said, referring to Trump’s approach to North Korea.

Another government source said, “We should not be swayed by what is happening right now. What’s needed is to coordinate firmly with the U.S. administration.”

Trump on Thursday abruptly canceled the planned summit with Kim, but he later said the United States and North Korea were having “very productive talks.” On Saturday, Trump told reporters at the White House that arrangements appeared to be “going along very well.”

North Korea said last week it dismantled its only known nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, but Foreign Minister Taro Kono expressed doubt about whether the site has been closed.

“There is no need to hurry. The biggest challenge is for the international community to jointly prevent North Korea from evading sanctions in a tactical manner,” Kono told reporters during a visit to Yamagata Prefecture.

For Japan, resolving the long-standing issue of Japanese abducted by Pyongyang agents in the 1970s and 1980s is also a priority.

“This is going to be an opportunity that Japan, which has the abduction issue, should never lose,” Koichi Hagiuda, executive acting secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said during a speech in Miyazaki Prefecture.