Nov. 5 (UPI) — Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said a Kim Jong Un visit to next year’s rescheduled Tokyo Olympics would be a “good opportunity” to discuss important matters, but his office may not be in a position to extend the invitation.
Suga told Japanese lawmakers of the Upper House budget committee on Thursday a Kim visit to Japan could afford Tokyo and other stakeholders an opportunity to hold diplomatic talks, the Sankei Shimbun reported.
Suga was fielding questions from local politicians, who were inquiring whether he would be willing to hold talks with Kim if the North Korean leader “visited Japan during the Tokyo Olympics.”
Politicians also asked about whether Japan would lead a six-party talks summit, involving leaders of the United States, China, South and North Korea, as well as Russia.
The prime minister said a potential Kim visit and a gathering of the six leaders during the Tokyo Olympics would be a “very important opportunity for diplomacy,” South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported.
There are no clear paths forward for a Japan-North Korea summit, however.
Seiko Hashimoto, the minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, said it is up to the International Olympic Committee, Japanese Olympic committees, and the city of Tokyo to determine who gets invited, according to the Sankei.
Suga, like his predecessor Shinzo Abe, has prioritized improving ties with North Korea. Suga has offered to meet with Kim without conditions, and his administration has said the issue of abducted Japanese citizens remains a top concern.
Plans for the Tokyo Olympics remain uncertain amid a new surge in coronavirus cases.
NHK and Jiji Press reported Japan reported 1,024 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. That number was disclosed at 7:25 p.m., local time.
Japan has confirmed a total of more than 105,000 cases of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.