Tokyo could resolve the longstanding issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea through dialogue with the DPRK and by “taking a prudent and active attitude,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said.
In an interview with the Yomiuri Shimbun ahead of a major trilateral summit between China, Japan, and South Korea slated to begin on Wednesday, Moon reiterated Seoul’s desire to press Pyongyang on the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea.
“I am aware that how significant the issue of kidnapping victims is to the Japanese government and people,” the President said, adding that he had raised the subject with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their meeting at Panmunjom on April 27.
“The issue of kidnapping victims have remained a long-stalled intractable problem between the North and Japan, and my understanding is there are high-levels of pessimism over solving the problem in Japan,” he continued.
“But I believe [Tokyo] can find a clue to the resolution of the issue if it engages in dialogue taking a prudent and active attitude.”
The South Korean President has pledged to cooperate with the Japanese government to help secure talks between Pyongyang and Tokyo.
“Above all, I hope the pain that the families of abduction victims will heal as the pending issue between the North and Japan is resolve through continuous dialogue,” Moon said.
The ROK President last week said he had delivered Abe’s hopes to normalize bilateral ties between Tokyo and Pyongyang to Kim Jong Un during their meeting, and that the North Korean leader had expressed his willingness to hold talks with Japan “at any time.”
In his interview on Tuesday, Moon said he and Kim had enjoyed “candid dialogue.”
“I had a heart-to-heart talk with chairman Kim Jong Un throughout the summit. The topics of conversation varied from peace on the Korean peninsula to inter-Korean talks,” he said. “I had the impression that chairman Kim is very honest and practical.”
The South Korean President’s visit to Tokyo on Wednesday is the first of its kind in six and half years, and Moon is set to hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on pending issues including “recent developments in Northeast Asia.”
Moon is set to brief foreign officials on last month’s inter-Korean summit, as well as hold consultations on strengthening trilateral cooperation on denuclearization and plans for a peace treaty between Seoul and Pyongyang.
But despite claims that Kim Jong Un is open for dialogue with Tokyo, the past few days have seen DPRK state-run media step up its criticism of the Japanese government and hint that talks might not be likely to take place soon.
Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Monday condemned recent remarks by Prime Minister Abe calling on Pyongyang to take specific actions for denuclearization in a commentary accusing Japan of “spouting a load of rubbish.”
“They are resorting to sleight of hand and flattering to get an opportunity for setting their feet on the land of Pyongyang,” KCNA said in an English-language version of the article. “They should bear in mind that they can never do so if they persist in ill-minded behavior.”
Sunday also saw North Korea’s most widely-read newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, warn Tokyo that its officials would “never step on the sacred land” of the DPRK until the country “drops its inveterate repugnancy and bad habit.”
“Japan has to correct its ill practices before making preparations for a journey.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Blue House
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