Japan rejects North Korea’s statement on abducted citizens

0
11

Sept. 30 (UPI) — Tokyo says North Korean claims are “unacceptable,” following a statement from the North Korean foreign ministry claiming the issue of abducted Japanese citizens has been resolved.

Japan also said the country seeks to “normalize diplomatic relations” with the Kim Jong Un regime.

Advertisement

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Wednesday at a regular press briefing there is no change in Tokyo’s position, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported. The government recognizes at least a dozen abductees. North Korea has said all living abductees were returned to Japan.

Kato’s statement comes after Pyongyang’s foreign ministry stated on its website after Japan’s “reckless 100 years of action” the North Koreans had “completely resolved” the issue of kidnapped Japanese citizens. The North Korean statement was published under the name of Ri Byong Dok, a North Korean researcher at Pyongyang’s Institute of Japan.

Kato said addressing the abductions is an important component of Japan’s North Korea policy.

“Based on the foundation of the Japan-North Korea Pyongyang Declaration, we will comprehensively resolve the issue of various issues, including abductions, nuclear weapons and missiles, to clear away the unfortunate past and aim for the normalization of diplomatic relations,” Kato said.

The chief cabinet secretary also said the abduction issue is the “most important task of the cabinet” of new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Kato said the families of victims are “getting older every year,” and that the administration believes there should be no further delay.

Japan is expecting a visit from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo following Suga’s election. The U.S. State Department said Tuesday Pompeo would visit Japan on Oct. 6 for a meeting of the Quad foreign ministers of Australia, India and Japan.

Pompeo is also to make stopovers in Mongolia and South Korea.

South Korea’s foreign ministry said Wednesday Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha would meet with Pompeo to discuss the Korean Peninsula as well as “regional and global issues,” Segye Ilbo reported.

The visit will “further develop the U.S.-South Korea alliance” while “deepening cooperation” between the two countries, Seoul said. Neither Seoul nor Washington has been able to resume dialogue with the North.