Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is still willing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the government's top spokesman said Tuesday, after the White House ruled out a summit between Kim and U.S. President Joe Biden in the near future.

The overture underscores Tokyo's hope for progress in securing the return of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s, but could be seen as a break from Washington's efforts to pressure Pyongyang to denuclearize.

Suga said after taking office last September he would inherit predecessor Shinzo Abe's willingness to meet with Kim "without preconditions."