At the beginning of May, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed a willingness to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “without conditions.” In an exclusive interview with Abe at the time, the Sankei Shimbun called this a “bold and decisive move.” More than two months later, however, the first Japan-North Korea summit in 15 years shows no sign of happening. Critics claim that Japan is “out of the loop” on the North Korean problem.

On June 2, a spokesperson for the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, an organization controlled by North Korea’s United Front Department, rejected Abe’s proposal to engage in dialogue without preconditions as a “brazen-faced suggestion on the part of the Abe administration as Japan continues to commit wrongdoings in North Korea.” Chinese President Xi Jinping communicated Abe’s wish when he visited Pyongyang in June, but the only response forthcoming from the North Korean leader was that it has been “noted.” The shift in Abe’s policy from calling for “maximum pressure” on North Korea and ruling out “dialogue for dialogue’s sake” continues to be in vain.

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