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Iran Press TV

Japan 'ready to break shell of distrust with North Korea'

Iran Press TV

Wed Sep 26, 2018 07:37AM

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has declared his readiness "to break the shell of mutual distrust with North Korea" and meet with its leader, Kim Jong-un.

Speaking Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, Abe said any summit with Kim would be devoted to resolving his country's decades-old tensions with Pyongyang over the alleged abduction of Japanese citizens by the North, which remains a sensitive issue for the Japanese public.

"In order to resolve the abduction issue, I am also ready to break the shell of mutual distrust with North Korea, get off to a new start, and meet face to face with Chairman Kim Jong-un," Abe said. "But if we are to have one (face-to-face meeting), then I am determined that it must contribute to the resolution of the abduction issue."

He said however that no summit had yet been planned, and called on Kim to also show interest in a meeting.

"Japan's policy of seeking to settle the unfortunate past and normalize its relations with North Korea once the abductions, nuclear, and missile issues are resolved will not change," Abe further said.

North Korea's adversaries have been opposed to its missile and nuclear programs. Pyongyang has unilaterally suspended all such tests.

Japan makes particular claims that North Korea kidnapped scores of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s in an alleged effort to train spies. Former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Pyongyang in 2002 and 2004 to seek a new relationship but was reportedly told that the remaining abduction victims were dead – something rejected by Japanese family members and activists.

Abe's remarks on Tuesday starkly contrasted his statements regarding North Korea at last year's General Assembly session, where he warned that the window of diplomacy with Pyongyang was closing.

But ever since, South Korea's President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump have held summits with Kim, although to varying degrees of success; and there are fears in Japan that Tokyo could be left out if it rejects dialog.

Abe first mentioned his willingness to meet with Kim earlier this month at the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Russia, where he said, "I too must break the shell of mutual distrust, take a step forward, and ultimately meet with Chairman Kim Jong-un."

Japan-Russia peace treaty

In his UN address, the Japanese prime minister also underlined the need for a peace treaty between Japan and Russia, saying, "Once a Japan-Russia peace treaty comes into existence, the peace and prosperity of East Asia will attain a more certain cornerstone."

The idea of a Tokyo-Moscow peace treaty was first raised by Russian President Vladimir Putin during the EEF summit in the Russian city of Vladivostok on September 12, when he surprised the Japanese prime minister with a sudden offer to formally end their World War II hostilities without preconditions.

"An idea has just come into my head," Putin said, turning to Abe on the stage. "Let's conclude a peace treaty not now, but before the end of the year without any preconditions."

Abe did not respond to the offer at the time.

Visit to China

During his UN speech, Abe also mentioned his plan for a state visit to China next month, "thereby adding to our bilateral relations and to the entire region another definitive axle for stability."

While in New York, he is also due to hold talks on Wednesday with Trump amid reports that Tokyo fears growing friction with the American chief executive over trade.

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