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LDP shows understanding for unconditional talks with DPRK

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on May 15 attended meetings of the Liberal Democratic Party’s Headquarters for North Korean Abductions and a bipartisan parliamentary group. Suga sought understanding for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to meet with Workers’ Party of Korea Chairman Kim Jong Un without preconditions. The opposition parties are saying it is a “defeat for Abe’s diplomacy” and demanding explanations for the policy change.

 

Suga, who also serves as Minister in charge of the Abductions Issue, traveled to the U.S. from May 9 to 12 and met with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. At Wednesday’s meetings, Suga reported, “The Japanese and U.S. governments agreed on continued cooperation and a determination for the early resolution of the [abduction] issue.”

 

Suga underscored, “The prime minister is determined to meet with Chairman Kim in person without preconditions” and explained the prime minister’s policy of seeking a summit with the North without preconditions in order to resolve the deadlock.

 

After the meetings, the LDP’s Keiji Furuya, a former minister in charge of the abduction issue who now chairs the bipartisan parliamentary group, said, “The Japanese and North Korean leaders have no choice but to break the shell of mutual distrust,” indicating support for the prime minister’s new policy.

 

Meanwhile, the opposition bloc sees the prime minister’s policy change as problematic and is poised to discuss the matter in the Diet.

 

Democratic Party for the People leader Yuichiro Tamaki said in a press conference on May 15, “We’d like to discuss why the prime minister has changed the policy and if there are any prospects for progress [in the abduction issue].” Tamaki also called for intensive deliberations in the budget committees of both chambers of the Diet.

 

Seiji Osaka, policy chief of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, appeared on an NHK program on May 12. He criticized the prime minister by saying, “It sounds as if he is giving up all his bargaining chips and saying ‘I’m willing to meet you for any reason.’ “

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