All papers reported that Prime Minister Abe on Tuesday conveyed a conciliatory message to North Korea by telling the press that he is eager to meet with Chairman Kim “without any preconditions.” The prime minister also reportedly expressed this view to President Trump when they spoke by phone on Monday evening. Yomiuri wrote that Abe has reversed his policy on North Korea by shelving his previous insistence that dialogue with the DPRK must be premised upon the settlement of the abduction issue. Noting that the premier has apparently decided that top-level diplomacy will be necessary to achieve a breakthrough in stalled behind-the-scenes negotiations involving working-level officials, the daily surmised that Abe opted to take the initiative in the hope that Pyongyang will consider engaging in dialogue with Japan following the “breakdown” of the Hanoi summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim. The paper added that even if the DPRK leader does decide to heed Abe’s call for an unconditional meeting, he might simply reiterate the regime’s standard refrain that the abduction issue is already resolved.
Tokyo Shimbun highlighted remarks made by a DPRK source, who allegedly stressed that Japan must first lift the ban on travel to Japan by North Koreans if it wants to arrange a summit between Abe and Chairman Kim.