Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed Sunday his resolve to move forward the long-stalled issue of past abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korea, a day after Pyongyang announced freezing nuclear tests and scrapping its test site. "It is extremely important to make progress on the abduction issue more than anything," Abe said during a meeting in Tokyo with families of the kidnapped victims. Abe met with Shigeo Iizuka, the head of a group representing abductees' families, and Sakie Yokota, the mother of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted in 1977 at age 13, among others at the meeting. Abe said he "welcomes the positive moves of North Korea" but maintained the stance of continuing to impose sanctions on Pyongyang over its past launches of nuclear weapons tests and ballistic missiles. "Japan has absolutely no intention at the current stage" of easing the sanctions, Abe said.
WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump repeatedly took up the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in his talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam in February, a senior U.S. official said Friday. Matt Pottinger, senior director for Asia at the National Security Council, disclosed the information at a meeting in Washington with family members of abduction victims. Pottinger pledged U.S. support for efforts to resolve the decades-old issue. According to Lower House lawmaker Keiji Furuya, Pottinger explained that at the bilateral summit, Trump referred to the abduction issue repeatedly, although Kim tried to change the subject of their talks. Furuya, who chairs a group of lawmakers working on the abduction issue, joined the meeting between Pottinger and the family members of abductees.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed Wednesday to cooperate in addressing issues linked to North Korea, including past abductions of Japanese citizens, before Trump meets with the North's leader Kim Jong Un next week. "We firmly and closely coordinated our policies in the run-up to the second U.S.-North Korea summit to resolve nuclear, missile and abduction issues," Abe told reporters after speaking with Trump on the phone. Abe said Trump promised to prioritize helping address the abductions by North Korean agents of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, which has prevented the normalization of diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Pyongyang. Abe has also expressed his readiness to meet directly with Kim. Trump and Kim are scheduled to hold their second summit on Feb. 27 and 28 in Hanoi.
Family members of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s on Monday requested that U.S. President Joe Biden's administration focus on resolving the long-standing abduction issue. Sakie Yokota, 85, mother of then 13-year-old Megumi Yokota, who was kidnapped on her way home from school, and her younger brother Takuya, 52, filed the request addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a meeting with Joseph Young, charge d'affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. It marked the first time that relatives of abduction victims had met with a senior U.S. official since Biden took office in January. The meeting took place a day before the foreign and defense ministers of Japan and the United States hold security talks in the Japanese capital at which North Korea and other regional issues are on the agenda. "We requested the Biden administration focus on resolving the abduction issue," just as previous U.S. administrations did, Takuya Yokota, who serves as secretary general of a group of the victims' families, told reporters. Tsutomu Nishioka, chairman of an advocacy group for the abductees, joined the Yokotas in handing Young a letter asking the new U.S. administration to "continue closely cooperating with the Japanese government in striving to realize the swift repatriation of all abduction victims."
The parents of a girl who has come to symbolize Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and '80s voiced frustration with the lack of progress on the issue Wednesday -- 40 years to the date since their daughter was kidnapped from her seaside town by agents of the isolated nation.