North Korean leader Kim Jong Un touched on the issue of Pyongyang's past abductions of Japanese nationals when he held talks for the second time with U.S. President Donald Trump in late February, Japanese government sources said Sunday.
Kim is quoted by the sources as telling Trump in Hanoi at the time that he acknowledges the issue is pending between North Korea and Japan, as well as saying "I will also meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at some stage."
It is the first time Kim's remarks on the abduction issue during the second U.S.-North Korean summit have been revealed. Still, it remains unclear whether Kim is determined to resolve the issue that has been a sticking point in Japan's relations with North Korea for many years.
Japan officially lists 17 of its citizens as having been abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s but suspects their involvement in many more disappearances. Of the 17, five were repatriated in 2002.
Japan has said it will normalize relations with North Korea if North Korea abandons its nuclear and missile programs, and solves the abduction issue.
Trump told Abe of what Kim had said regarding the abduction issue when the U.S. and Japanese leaders spoke over the phone on Feb. 28 shortly after the second nuclear summit, which collapsed over mismatched demands on disarmament and sanctions relief.
Trump raised the issue with Kim on Feb. 27 both during a one-on-one meeting, only attended by their interpreters, and a following dinner that they had together with some officials, according to the sources.
Kim made the remarks after the abduction issue was brought up by Trump, the sources said.
Most likely, Trump and Kim did not spend much time discussing the issue as they largely focused on steps to denuclearize North Korea and bilateral affairs when they met in the Vietnamese capital.
But one Japanese government official said it is worth noting that Kim did not reiterate North Korea's long-standing position that the issue has already been settled.
At Abe's request, Trump brought up the abduction issue also at his first summit with Kim in June in Singapore. Kim suggested he could meet with Abe at that time as well, Japanese government sources said earlier, bRead More