According to governmental sources cited by Japanese newspaper The Mainichi, the Japanese authorities may hold talks with the North Korean side not only at the upcoming US-North Korea summit, slated for June 12, but also on the sidelines of a global security forum in Mongolia next week, which will closely follow it.
As the Japanese premier has explicitly stated his willingness to engage in direct talks with the DPRK, Tokyo hopes to lay the groundwork for a historic meeting, primarily in order to solve the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by Pyongyang decades ago, the sources stated. To this end, Japan reportedly plans to send a senior official from the country’s Foreign Ministry to negotiate with the Disarmament and Peace Institute, North Korea's Foreign Ministry think tank, on the fringes of the security forum. Separately, US President Donald Trump promised to raise the question during his June 12 talks with Kim. To facilitate the talks, the Japanese government plans to send Abe's national security adviser, Shotaro Yachi, and Kenji Kanasugi, who heads the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau.
The aforementioned high-profile visits are due to occur during an economic forum in September in Vladivostok in the Russian Far East; according to the sources, if Kim accepts the invitation, Abe may also seek to meet the North Korean leader in person, thus paving the way for potential bilateral Abe-Kim talks either in Tokyo or Pyongyang.
A stumbling block in the two countries’ relations, which is currently considered a top priority issue to be resolved, is the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korean agents from 1977 till 1983. The DPRK has officially admitted to abducting 13 people; some of them are believed to have been invited to teach the Japanese language and culture at North Korean spy schools. Five Japanese nationals managed to return to their home country in the 2000s, whereas the fate of the others is still questioned, despite North Korean assertions that they had died.