Japan’s Kishida ‘proposed’ summit with Kim Jong Un

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Monday that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has proposed a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as the North urged Japan to show sincerity toward improving bilateral ties and realizing their countries’ first summit in about 20 years.

Japan’s government did not immediately respond to the North Korean announcement. In the statement carried by state media, Kim’s sister and senior official, Kim Yo Jong, said Kishida used an unspecified channel to convey his position that he wants to meet Kim Jong Un in person at an early date.

Kim Yo Jong said there will be no breakthrough in North Korea-Japan relations as long as Kishida’s government raises the issue of Japanese citizens abducted to North Korea in past decades and opposes what she described as the North’s “exercise of sovereign rights,” apparently referring to the North’s weapons testing activities.

Open to talks

In February, Kim Yo Jong issued a similar statement on bilateral ties, saying North Korea was open to improving relationships with Japan and even inviting Kishida to Pyongyang. But she said those would be possible only if Tokyo “drops its bad habit of unreasonably pulling up (North Korea) over its legitimate right to self-defense and does not lay such a stumbling block as the already settled abduction issue.”

Kishida has said previously that he believes a summit with Kim Jong Un is important in various ways, including solving the problem of the abducted Japanese citizens. Japanese media reported he said he wasn’t aware of the North Korean announcement when he was asked about it in parliament Monday.

Some experts say North Korea is seeking to improve ties with Japan as a way to weaken a trilateral Tokyo-Seoul-Washington security partnership, while Kishida also wants better ties with North Korea to increase his declining approval rating at home.

North Korea and Japan don’t have diplomatic ties, and their relations have been overshadowed by North Korea’s nuclear program, the North’s past abduction of Japanese nationals and Japan’s 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula. / AP


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