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Japan apprehensive about President Trump adopting conciliatory tone

All Sunday dallies wrote that the GOJ is reportedly worried that President Trump might be so eager to hold a summit with Kim Jong Un that he will be tempted to ease the pressure on North Korea ahead of its denuclearization. Yomiuri wrote that Japan is allegedly alarmed by the possibility that it will be forced to foot the bill for economic assistance to North Korea in the absence of substantial progress on the abduction issue. Nikkei said Japan is apparently desperate to maintain the maximum pressure campaign, projecting that Prime Minister Abe is set to ask President Trump not to ease the pressure on the DPRK when they hold a summit at the White House on Thursday. The daily claimed that the GOJ has already asked the USG to have the President make a stopover at Yokota AB on his way home from Singapore so that the President can brief PM Abe on the outcome of the talks in person. 


Mainichi opined that “daylight” has emerged between Tokyo and Washington because President Trump seems inclined to allow North Korea to take a phased approach toward denuclearization. The national daily conjectured that since the U.S. leader appears to be taking a more conciliatory line toward the DPRK ahead of the Singapore summit, the GOJ is looking to coordinate with hardliners in the Trump administration, such as National Security Advisor Bolton, to remind the President that easing sanctions could hamper denuclearization. Sankei argued that giving too much consideration to North Korea could backfire by allowing it to put off denuclearization indefinitely, adding that the U.S. leader should terminate nuclear negotiations without delay if the DPRK is found to be procrastinating.     

Today’s Yomiuri ran a prominent inside-page story on mounting concern within the GOJ about whether President Trump will firmly address the abduction issue during his talks with Kim Jong Un in Singapore next week. The fact that the President did not bring up the human rights issue during his meeting at the White House on Friday with Kim Yong Chol has reportedly alarmed GOJ officials, with a source involved in U.S.-Japan diplomacy saying: “I was frankly surprised by the fact that the President stated clearly that he did not talk about human rights. It is necessary to remind the Trump administration of the importance of the abduction issue.” The article predicted that PM Abe will take up the subject during his summit with the President later this week and that Foreign Minister Kono will probably do the same if he meets with Secretary Pompeo in Washington on Wednesday.

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