Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is reportedly planning a trip to its reclusive neighbour North Korea in what may well be both a historic and controversial move. This comes after talks last week in Sweden between officials from both countries has led Pyongyang to agree to reopen the investigation into the cases of abducted Japanese nationals in exchange for food and medical supplies.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told a Diet committee meeting on Tuesday that the government should seriously consider sending the Prime Minister to visit Pyongyang since they need to think of “what would be the most effective response and method in order to bring results.” He emphasized that there is a need to speed up the investigation since the relatives of the abductees who were taken during the 70s and 80s are getting older and are demanding for any concrete news regarding their loved ones. When reporters asked Abe whether he would be willing to pay a visit to their neighbour, he answered, “We’d like to do our utmost to have the North Korean side deliver on their promise.” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said they will be sending several Japanese officials to monitor the progress of the promised reinvestigation.
During the talks last week, Japanese officials agreed to give food and medical aid to North Korea when they have seen that enough progress has been done to investigate the whereabouts of the abductees. But it has to be done through the private sector or non-governmental organizations because direct government aid would ruffle a lot of feathers both domestically and internationally. Both South Korea and the United States have led the movement to sanction the communist country until they officially stop their nuclear and missile testing program. Japan’s latest move to provide indirect aid to North Korea may raise tensions among these countries.