President Donald Trump welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Shizo Abe to the White House Thursday ahead of a scheduled joint press conference at 2 p.m.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2018
According to foreign press pool reports, before leaving Tokyo, Abe told reporters, “I want to make sure to be on the same page with President Trump ahead of the first ever U.S.-North Korea summit so we can push forward nuclear and missile issues, and most importantly the abduction problem, and make for a successful summit.”
Pool reports also noted that Abe is interested in discussing what has become known in news reports as “the abduction issue” stemming from a back and forth disagreement between Japan and North Korea over 17 Japanese nationals who were taken to North Korea 30-plus years ago, 12 of whom never returned. North Korea has asserted the issue has been resolved. Japan is countering that assertion.
In regards to the abductees, Tokyo officially recognizes 17 people as having been taken to North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s. Five were returned in 2002.
Japan believes Kim Jong Un will probably reassert during the summit with Trump that of the remaining 12 people, eight have died and the other four never entered North Korea, according to the sources.
Late Monday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency hammered home Pyongyang’s stance, blasting Japan in a commentary for stressing the abductee issue.
“Japan is bound to be ridiculed by the international community and driven out of history if it persists in escalating confrontation with the DPRK under the pretext of the already resolved ‘abduction issue,’ failing to acclimatize itself to the new situation,” it said.
Abe, who views the issue as a government priority, will call on Trump to reject that assertion and try to persuade Kim to understand the necessity of Japan-North Korean consultations on the abduction issue, the sources said.
According to pool reports, Abe “will ask Trump to convey a message to (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un that Japan would consider talks on normalization and an extension of economic cooperation if progress were made on the abduction issue. Abe will also emphasize the importance of maintaining strict international sanctions on North Korea, despite Trump’s reluctance to use the term ‘maximum pressure’ now.”
The two leaders will also discuss human rights abuses, North Korea’s weapons program, and trade. Watch the press conference live beginning at 2 pm ET.