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Trump repeatedly took up abduction issue with Kim Jong Un: senior U.S. official

The Japan Times

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.

Families of abductees seek help from U.S. for immediate return of kin from North Korea

The Japan Times

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.

Minister in charge of the abduction issue, Katsunobu Kato, presses North Korea to resolve the matter

The Japan Times

NEW YORK – Tokyo exhorted Pyongyang on Thursday to take "concrete action" toward resolving the issue of abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, along with its denuclearization. Katsunobu Kato, minister in charge of the abduction issue, made the comments at the U.N. headquarters in New York during a symposium on the human rights situation in North Korea. Referring to the upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit, he said, "It is important that the United States raise the issue of abduction and entice action from North Korea." "We must maintain'maximum pressure' against North Korea" until Pyongyang takes such action "toward denuclearization and resolution of human rights issues, including abduction," he said. "The families of the abductees consider this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

A year since Shigeru Yokota's death, progress elusive on North Korea abductions

The Japan Times

Saturday marked the first anniversary of the death of Shigeru Yokota, a torchbearer of Japan's campaign to bring home citizens abducted by North Korea after his teenage daughter, Megumi, was taken in 1977. Since his death, Japan has seen little progress in efforts to resolve the abduction cases, though Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reiterated the issue remains a top priority for his administration, as it was for his predecessor, Shinzo Abe. Suga, like Abe, has urged North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to meet "without preconditions." But there has been no breakthrough in the abduction issue and broader bilateral relations. Commenting on the anniversary of Yokota's death, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato expressed regret about the Suga government not being able to advance the abduction issue, which has prevented Tokyo and Pyongyang from normalizing diplomatic ties.

Abe tells kin of Japanese abductees he wants to talk frankly with North Korean leader

The Japan Times

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated Sunday his hope to hold unconditional and candid talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "By meeting Workers' Party of Korea Chairman Kim Jong Un without setting conditions, I want to talk with him frankly with an open mind," Abe said during a meeting in Tokyo with family members of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s. Abe also pledged to resolve the long-standing issue while he is in power, adding U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with the families during his four-day visit to Japan as a state guest from next Saturday. "The president has his heart set on helping," Abe said, while Sakie Yokota, the mother of Megumi Yokota who was abducted at age 13 in 1977, said the families have waited anxiously for so long for the return of their loved ones. In the run-up to the Upper House election in July, Abe has started repeating his desire to hold talks with Kim, even without preconditions, a shift from his previous position that any summit should yield progress on the abduction issue. An early settlement of the abduction issue remains a major political goal for Abe, who, unlike the leaders of the other major countries dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue, is yet to hold a meeting with Kim.