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North Korea Claims Japanese PM Has Asked For Summit Meeting With Kim Jong Un

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, has stated that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has requested a summit meeting. A press statement issued by North Korea’s official press agency KCNA quoted her as stating that Kishida had “conveyed his intention to personally meet the President of the State Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as soon as possible.”

Kim’s sister however warned that such a meeting, if it occurred, would mark no real change unless Japan changed its perceptions. She stated in the press statement that the “history of the DPRK-Japan relations gives a lesson that it is impossible to improve the bilateral relations full of distrust and misunderstanding,” without a substantive policy change on Tokyo’s part. She warned Japan not to remain “engrossed in the abduction issue that has no further settlement.”

Kim Yo Jong was referring to the bitter history between Japan and North Korea. According to an AFP report, North Korea had finally admitted in 2002 that it had sent spies to capture 17 Japanese citizens, who were then used to train their agents in Japanese language and customs. The issue remains an emotive one in Japan and has marred the normalisation of ties between the two nations.

Japanese authorities have not issued an official statement of their own regarding the proposed summit. According to Bloomberg when asked about Kim’s sister’s statement in Parliament the Japanese PM stated that he was not aware of what she had said but added that “it is important to hold a top-level meeting to resolve issues between Japan and North Korea, including the abduction problem, and there have been various approaches to North Korea under my direct control.”

The as yet unconfirmed request made by Kishida comes at a delicate time as it may upset Japan’s other allies the US and South Korea. The three nations have carried out joint military drills in recent times which has upset North Korea which sees the drills as a threat. Kim Jong Un has also raised concerns when he abandoned Pyongyang’s long-standing policy of peaceful unification with South Korea in January and called the nation “enemy number one.” This was perceived by analysts that North Korea was prepared to go to war if necessary.

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The proposed summit meeting comes at an especially sensitive time as South Korea is preparing to go to elections next month and the Japanese PM is set to go to the US next month where he and President Biden are expected to discuss tighter military cooperation.

“We are in discussions about how our planned joint command can strengthen cooperation with the U.S. and South Korea,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said on Monday at a regular media briefing.