TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that during his trip to the United States next week ahead of the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit he will ask President Donald Trump to seek the elimination of all North Korean missiles that could reach Japan.
Getting rid of only intercontinental ballistic missiles, which North Korea says can reach the U.S. mainland, “has no meaning for Japan, so I want to tell the president that (North Korea) should also abandon short and intermediate-range missiles that put Japan within range,” Abe said during a parliamentary committee session.
He also reiterated that he will ask Trump to raise the issue of North Korea’s past abductions of Japanese nationals with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“This is an important opportunity for me and President Trump to align our plans ahead of the inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korean summits,” Abe said during the session.
The summit between the two Koreas is scheduled for April 27, while Trump has agreed to meet Kim at some point before the end of May. The date and location of the Trump-Kim summit are yet to be decided.
Abe said he will also impress upon Trump the need to maintain pressure on North Korea over its nuclear and missile development even as Pyongyang opens up to dialogue with other countries.
“I want to confirm that we must not give North Korea a reprieve from sanctions or other rewards for merely agreeing to hold dialogue,” he said.
Abe plans to visit the United States between April 17 and 20 and hold two days of talks with Trump. He said the visit will “clearly display both domestically and abroad that our countries have always been, and will always be, with each other 100 percent.”
Abe met on March 30 with family members of the Japanese nationals abducted by the North in the 1970s and 1980s. In a written proposal, they asked him to call on Trump to make concrete plans to bring the abductees back to Japan.
They also said Abe should not hold his own summit with Kim while the issue remains unresolved.
Japan officially lists 17 of its citizens as having been abducted by North Korea and suspects Pyongyang’s involvement in other disappearances.
Five of the 17 were repatriated in 2002, but North Korea maintains eight have died and the other four were never in the country.