Asia Minute: Leaders of Japan and North Korea May Talk

Mar 14, 2018

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Credit Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Wikimedia Commons

President Trump will have a new Secretary of State advising him ahead of his planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un later this spring. But while the headlines in the United States are focused on these bi-lateral talks, some coverage in Asia is already looking at another possible high-level meeting. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may be considering a meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. That word comes from Kyodo News and a number of other Japanese publications, quoting what they call “government sources.”

Japan is not only concerned about nuclear issues and North Korean missile tests, but also about a series of kidnapping cases involving Japanese citizens. North Korea has admitted to abducting 13 people from Japan in the 1970’s and 80’s. Japanese leaders believe the actual number of cases is much higher.

Abe wants the issue included as part of any talks with North Korea, and has said “a resolution of the abduction, nuclear and missile issues is Japan’s core policy.”

The timing of this potential diplomatic progression starts with South Korea.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in
Credit Republic of Korea / Flickr

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is expected to meet Kim Jong Un in late April, while the target time for President Trump’s meeting with Kim is sometime in May.

According to a White House timeline, last Thursday night, while South Korean officials were announcing plans for the U.S.-North Korean meeting, President Trump was on the phone with Prime Minister Abe, telling him about the latest developments.

Before the 30-minute call was over, the leaders agreed that Abe will come to Washington in April—well before President Trump meets with Kim Jong Un.