A senior North Korean official has reportedly questioned a statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he aims to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without any preconditions.
Song Il Ho, the ambassador for normalizing ties with Japan, met with a Japanese delegation in Pyongyang on Wednesday.
The delegation leader, Shingo Kanemaru, spoke to reporters in Beijing on his way home from Pyongyang on Thursday.
According to Kanemaru, Song took issue with Abe’s remark that he is willing to discuss the abduction issue and nuclear and missile development with North Korea.
Song reportedly suggested that Abe is contradicting himself because he is actually setting conditions for a Japan-North Korea summit.
Song also told Kanemaru that he is not in contact with the Japanese government. North Korea appears to be sticking to its position that the abduction issue has already been resolved.
The Japanese government says North Korean agents abducted at least 17 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 80s. Five returned to Japan after a bilateral summit in 2002, but the rest remain unaccounted for.
According to Kanemaru, Song also called on Japan to settle the past history shared by North Korea by offering apologies and compensation for Japan’s rule of the Korean Peninsula.
Song also reportedly referred to Japan’s decision not to grant subsidies for kindergartens and day-care centers attached to schools operated by a pro-Pyongyang organization of Korean residents of Japan.
Song suggested that Japan took the decision to put more pressure on North Korea.
Shingo Kanemaru is the second son of the late Liberal Democratic Party vice president, Shin Kanemaru, who was a powerful figure in Japanese politics.
Along with the-then Socialist Party vice chairman Makoto Tanabe, Shin Kanemaru met North Korea’s founding leader, Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang in 1990.
The visit paved the way for channels between the two countries, which have no diplomatic ties.
Shingo Kanemaru and his group including business people made a six-day visit to North Korea to mark the 105th anniversary of his father’s birth on Tuesday.