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Japan seeks unconditional Abe-Kim summit despite N. Korea’s rebuff

TOKYO — Japan will continue to seek a summit between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without setting conditions, despite the offer being called “brazen” by Pyongyang, top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Monday.

 

“There is absolutely no change” in the government’s policy, the chief Cabinet secretary said at a press conference, while noting that he will not specifically react to each comment made by North Korea.

 

“Prime Minister Abe is prepared to break the shell of mutual distrust and directly face Chairman Kim in order to resolve the North Korean nuclear and missile issues, and most importantly of all, the issue of the abductions (of Japanese nationals),” he said.

 

Abe said in early May that he is willing to hold a summit with Kim without preconditions, easing his previous stance that a prerequisite would be progress toward securing the return of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s.

 

But according to North Korea’s state-run media, a spokesperson for the country’s Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee bashed Japan for reaching out while keeping economic sanctions on the country.

 

“The Abe group is talking about the ‘opening of summit talks without precondition’ while desperately hurting the DPRK, which is a height of brazen-facedness,” the Korean Central News Agency on Sunday quoted the spokesperson as saying. DPRK is the acronym for North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

 

“Abe tenaciously knocks the door of Pyongyang while making an advertisement as if the Japanese government’s policy for negotiation with the DPRK was changed, but there is nothing changed in its hostile policy towards the DPRK,” the spokesperson continued.

 

Japan officially lists 17 victims of abduction, five of whom were repatriated in 2002, and suspects the North’s involvement in many other disappearances.

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