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Abe comments on North Korea during Diet session

All dailies took up remarks made at the parliament on Monday by Prime Minister Abe, who commented on the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea by saying: “I would like to make efforts to reach a settlement by building mutual confidence with North Korea…. It is true that Chairman Kim has exercised leadership in organizing a summit with the United States. I would like to make a fresh start between Japan and North Korea and take a step forward by ending mutual distrust.” According to Asahi, Abe praised Kim’s leadership three times during the day’s Diet session. Yomiuri opined that these statements represent the prime minister’s new approach of promoting dialogue with Pyongyang. While voicing his resolve to “seize every possible opportunity” to hold a summit with Kim, Abe reportedly stressed that such a meeting is contingent upon a settlement of the abduction issue and that Japan will not extend economic aid until the issue is resolved.


On the U.S.-DPRK summit last week, PM Abe said in the same Diet session: “President Trump adopted a new approach of urging North Korea to take actions by building mutual confidence and sharing a brighter future to be opened after denuclearization.” Speaking on the joint statement issued by the U.S. and DPRK leaders, the prime minister disclosed that when he met with the President in April, he advised him to have Kim sign a joint document at the Singapore summit. “The statement is significant because it lays the foundation for denuclearization,” said Abe. Foreign Minister Kono separately commented on the U.S.-North Korea statement by saying: “It is inconceivable that a document signed by the top leader would be rejected under the current North Korean regime.” On the absence of any reference to North Korea’s ballistic missile program in the U.S.-DPRK joint document, the premier said Tokyo is committed to seeking the elimination of all of North Korea’s ballistic missiles. Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga said Japan is willing to foot the bill for verification of North Korea’s denuclearization by the IAEA and other inspectors by saying: “It is natural for a country that would benefit from the peace dividend to help shoulder the cost of denuclearization verification.”


In a related item, Sankei’s latest opinion poll showed that almost 70% of respondents expressed opposition to a GOJ plan to shoulder some of the cost of verifying the steps toward denuclearization taken by the Kim regime. According to the daily, 82.5% said the denuclearization of North Korea is unlikely despite the Singapore summit, whereas almost three out of five were pessimistic about progress on the abduction issue. Some 37% said Kim outperformed President Trump in the Singapore sit-down, while approximately 19% said the opposite. 


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