NEW YORK – A senior Japanese official on Tuesday welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump's criticism of North Korea's abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s in his address to the U.N. General Assembly. Trump's speech reflects "deeper understanding" in the United States about the abduction issue, a high-priority issue for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura told journalists on the fringes of the annual gathering of world leaders in New York. "I think it means an understanding (about the issue) has gotten through" to the United States and other countries, Nishimura said. "We earned understanding from President Trump, who quoted the issue in the speech." Japan will continue to do its best in resolving the abduction issue while also addressing Pyongyang's development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, he said.
WASHINGTON – Family members of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s on Wednesday pressed the reclusive state to immediately return all kidnap victims. They made their demand in the United States ahead of the upcoming meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump has promised to raise the abduction issue during the meeting. Speaking after a meeting with former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage just outside Washington, Takuya Yokota, whose older sister was abducted, said he was encouraged by Armitage's comments that Kim has no right to say the issue has been settled and that it is only the victims' families who can declare it closed. Yokota's sister, Megumi, was taken from Niigata Prefecture while on her way home from school in 1977.
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.
The administration of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is paying close attention to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's approach to nuclear-armed North Korea, as Tokyo seeks to resolve the festering issue of Japanese citizens abducted by Pyongyang decades ago. But progress on the issue -- a top concern of Suga -- depends heavily on the course of U.S. relations with North Korea. Japan will convey to Biden's side its position on the abduction issue plus North Korea's missile and nuclear development programs before the U.S. presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, informed sources said. On Sunday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato attended a meeting held in Niigata to seek the resolution of the issue and renewed the government's determination to resolve the issue in cooperation with the next U.S. administration. "We'll make full efforts to bring home all abductees as soon as possible," said Kato, also minister in charge of the abduction issue.
In a landmark telephone conversation, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday agreed to closely cooperate in resolving the North Korean nuclear and missile issues and confirmed the importance of U.N. sanctions against the North to achieve that goal. In the first telephone talks ever between a Japanese prime minister and Chinese president -- demonstrating the rapidly warming ties between Asia's two biggest powers -- Abe and Xi welcomed the recent commitment by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in toward a "complete" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The two leaders also agreed to cooperate on resolving the abduction issue, a senior government official said. Xi's promise to help resolve the long-stalled issue, which involves Japanese abducted in the 1970s and 1980s, is positive news for Abe amid concerns Japan is being left behind by the five-way surge in diplomatic activity. Abe has said the issue is one of his top priorities.