Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Saturday that Japan will make efforts to contribute to the success of the unprecedented U.S.-North Korea summit, which President Donald Trump reinstated the previous day.
Japan "is determined to make utmost efforts so that it will be a historic summit that will move forward the nuclear, missile and abduction issues," Abe said in a speech in the western Japan prefecture of Shiga, referring to the North's past kidnap of Japanese nationals. Abe has said the abduction issue is one of the most important political agendas for his administration.
Abe will hold talks with Trump at the White House on June 7 before traveling to Canada for the Group of Seven summit on June 8 and 9, hoping to coordinate their policies toward the president's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
On Friday, Trump said his plan to meet Kim on June 12 in Singapore had been revived after meeting with Kim Yong Chol, a close aide to the leader, in the White House.
Abe, speaking at a gathering organized by his Liberal Democratic Party's local chapter, also stressed that Japan will not change its stance of keeping pressure on North Korea in collaboration with the international community.
"Japan will not tolerate a nuclear-armed North Korea. We continue to raise pressure and don't allow loopholes" in international economic sanctions targeting the country, he said.
The Japanese prime minster did not use the "maximum pressure" phrase he has repeatedly employed after Trump said following the meeting with the North Korean envoy that he does not want to use that term when Washington and Pyongyang are "getting along."
During the upcoming Japan-U.S. summit, Abe is expected to call on Trump to bring up the abduction issue in his meeting with Kim. Trump said he did not talk about human rights issues with the North Korean envoy, suggesting the issue of the Japanese citizens kidnapped in the 1970s and 1980s was not brought up.
A source close to Abe said there is no reason for Japan to become concerned about the absence of reference to the abduction issue as long as the matter is discussed in the Trump-Kim summit.