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Japan to back EU-led U.N. resolution on human rights in North Korea

Kyodo

Japan will back a draft U.N. resolution condemning North Korea’s human rights abuses, government sources said Wednesday, in a move that comes after failed attempts to bring the reclusive country to the negotiating table over its abduction of Japanese nationals.

The European Union plans to submit the resolution to the U.N. Human Rights Council during its current session being held from Feb. 24 to March 20. Japan had joined the bloc in presenting similar motions from 2008 to 2018, but opted to skip last year as an overture to Pyongyang.

This time, Japan will be a co-sponsor of the EU proposal, the sources said, meaning it will not be as heavily involved in crafting the resolution as in previous years.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been seeking to hold a face-to-face meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “without preconditions” to break the deadlock on the abductions that took place in the 1970s and 1980s.

Japan officially lists 17 abductees, five of whom were repatriated in 2002, and suspects the North’s involvement in many other disappearances.

Abe had been hopeful of progress after U.S. President Donald Trump raised the abduction issue when he held his second summit with Kim, in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi in February last year.

But North Korea rebuffed attempts to move forward, with a spokesperson for the country’s Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee last summer calling Abe’s offer to meet Kim “brazen-faced.” It has since resumed military provocations, on Monday test-firing at least three projectiles into the Sea of Japan.

The decision to withdraw support for the U.N. resolution last year was met with criticism from human rights groups and opposition lawmakers, who said it gave “an impression of weakness.”

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