June 13, 2018
Tokyo- Japan hopes to hold a summit with North Korea to resolve the issue of the country's abductions of Japanese nationals, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday.
"We hope that a Japan-North Korea summit will be realized in a way that will lead to the resolution of the abduction issue," Suga told a press conference.
The government will take steps to initiate direct negotiations with North Korea, officials said. The Foreign Ministry will send a senior official of its Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau to a two-day international meeting in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator from Thursday to approach a North Korean participant.
On Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump took up the abduction issue in his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. In their joint agreement, Kim pledged to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
"It's true that the extremely severe security situation facing Japan has been eased," Suga said, broadly welcoming the outcome of the summit.
Meanwhile, government officials were surprised by Trump's remark after the Singapore meeting that the United States will halt joint military exercises with South Korea as long as dialogue with North Korea goes well.
"The joint exercises are essential for maintaining troop capabilities, not only for applying pressure to North Korea," a Self-Defense Force officer said Tuesday. "To be honest, I'm surprised."
"We need to examine Trump's remark," a Defense Ministry executive said, warning that a freeze on the joint exercises could eventually result in a reduction in U.S. troops in South Korea.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said that the joint drills and U.S. forces in South Korea "play an important role for East Asian security."
Tokyo hopes to confirm with Washington and Seoul the importance of the exercises. Foreign Minister Taro Kono aims to receive an explanation of what Trump really meant during talks with his U.S. and South Korean counterparts in Seoul on Thursday. Jiji Press
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