Asahi reported on remarks on Japan-DPRK relations made to South Korean President Moon by his DPRK counterpart Kim during the inter-Korean summit last week, speculating that Kim’s alleged readiness to hold dialogue with Tokyo “at an appropriate time” may be deceptive, as the North Korean media has stepped up its criticism of Japan lately. According to a source involved in bilateral ties, the phrase “appropriate time” means that the Kim regime will not commence dialogue with the Abe administration until it addresses the issue of compensation for Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, which is the most important point for North Korea. The daily speculated that since Pyongyang is currently preoccupied with arranging a second summit between Kim and President Trump, it may have little interest in dealing with Tokyo right now.
As for Japan’s reaction to Kim’s alleged remarks, the paper wrote the Abe administration believes that a summit between Abe and Kim will only become possible after progress is made between the U.S. and North Korea on denuclearization. The daily quoted a Kantei source as saying: “The United States is North Korea’s [dialogue] partner right now. There is little chance that the DPRK will take steps” to start dialogue with Tokyo.
Sankei and Nikkei ran similar stories, with the former noting that some Japanese officials are concerned that ROK President Moon appears to be overly eager to mediate Japan-DPRK ties with the ultimate aim of improving his nation’s relations with its northern neighbor. Nikkei conjectured that Chairman Kim perhaps mentioned his readiness for dialogue with Japan in a bid to ease its opposition to the idea of issuing a declaration on ending the Korean War.