In informal contact earlier this year, North Korea reiterated its position that abductions of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s had been resolved, sources close to bilateral relations said Saturday, The Japan Times reports.
Japan is eager to make progress in the decades-long abduction issue, possibly through a summit like that between North and South Korea scheduled for April 27, or the proposed first-ever summit between the leaders of the United States and North Korea before the end of May.
But Tokyo appears to be left behind in the recent flurry of diplomatic activity and easing of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, with no meeting in sight between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Japan has informed North Korea of its desire to hold a bilateral summit through several channels since February, as Tokyo views such a meeting as essential to resolving the abduction issue.
According to the sources, Pyongyang’s message about the abduction issue being settled was conveyed to Tokyo around March through an unofficial route, and not via the Japanese Embassy in Beijing as in past contact between the Japanese and North Korean governments, as Japan currently has no direct diplomatic relations with North Korea.
The Japanese government views that message as a possible attempt by Pyongyang to test Tokyo’s position of insisting on the abduction issue’s resolution as a precondition for improved relations, the sources said.