After talks regarding the issue of abducted Japanese nationals in North Korea have stalled the past years, the Japanese government has confirmed that it will hold a summit with the reclusive state next week in Stockholm, Sweden. The administration of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes that the talks will finally hasten discussion and resolutions on the kidnappings that happened decades ago.
While North Korea’s regard of Japan has been unstable the past months, these three-day governmental talks shows how the communist country has softened its stance on Japan in recent months. The meeting is a follow-up after talks that were completed 16 months ago, where the two met regarding various topics including the abduction issue and North Korea’s nuclear weapon program. Japan expressed outrage against North Korea when the latter admitted a decade ago to kidnapping 13 Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 80s to train them as spies. Some of those abducted were able to return to Japan while North Korea maintained that the others have died but gave no evidence on their deaths. Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will attend the governmental-level meetings and announced that while the nuclear program is part of the agenda, the issue of the kidnappings remains top priority in the discussions.
Japan touched on the issue of North Korea’s ballistic missile testing and the threat it poses during their last meeting. North Korea for its part has demanded that Japan compensate them for the suffering they have endured during its colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula in the early years of the 20th century. The two nations have yet to come to an agreement on these matters and they hope to discuss it lengthily in the meetings next week.