National / Politics

Abe repeats hopes for summit with Kim to rebuild Japan-North Korea relations

JIJI

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated at a news conference Monday that he is determined to hold a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to develop new relations with the communist country.

“In the end, I must hold dialogue with Kim and resolve the issues of nuclear (weapons), missiles and, most importantly, North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals, in order to build a new bilateral relationship,” he said at a news conference in Hiroshima, where he attended the annual A-bomb ceremony.

He made the remark after referring to the brief conversation between Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Kono’s North Korean counterpart in Singapore on Friday.

Japan hopes North Korea’s complete denuclearization — a goal set at the historic U.S.-North Korea summit in June — “will be implemented completely and promptly,” Abe said.

“Japan needs to take the initiative to resolve the nuclear, missile and abduction issues through cooperation with the international community,” he added.

Kono briefly met North Korea’s Ri Yong Ho on Friday during a banquet for foreign ministers in town for meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It was their first chat since U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim held their historic summit in the city-state on June 12.

As for the Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election in September, Abe said he would spend time thinking about it from now on. He said he is feeling the weight of the LDP’s responsibility for diplomacy and national security.

The government’s policy of not joining the U.N. nuclear weapons ban treaty, which has been signed by many nonnuclear countries, remains in place, Abe said.

“The participation by nuclear countries is indispensable for truly realizing a world without nuclear arms,” he said.

Japan refused to join the treaty because it relies on the nuclear umbrella of the United States for its protection.