April 9 (UPI) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suggested during a parliamentary committee session on Monday
that he holds low expectations of the ultimate outcome of South Korea’s engagement with North Korea.
Abe, who might be the last regional leader to hold talks with the North in June, also said he would ask U.S. President Donald Trump to place pressure on North Korea’s missile program, according to Kyodo.
“In the past, inter-Korea summits did not lead to North Korea denuclearization,” Abe said, the Asahi Shimbun reported.
Abe’s response came after a lawmaker from the Democratic Party asked whether Tokyo had been sidelined during recent diplomatic engagements.
The Japanese prime minister said it would be “wrong” to think Japan is being left behind, the Asahi reported.
He added neither South Korea nor the United States should lift sanctions, and that the message needs to be clearly put forward to Japan’s allies.
Abe is expected to visit the United States next week in what would be his second summit with Trump.
The Japanese leader could try to persuade Washington to expand its focus to midrange missiles capable of striking Japan.
The Trump administration has placed top concern on North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile development.
Abe said eliminating ICBMs alone “has no meaning for Japan, so I want to tell the president that [North Korea] should also abandon short- and intermediate-range missiles that put Japan within range.”
Abe added he plans to address the issue of abducted Japanese citizens.
Since 2002, North Korea has allowed five Japanese abductees to return, has maintained eight others died and another four were never taken to North Korea.
A dozen abductees are still officially recognized by Tokyo, but North Korea has denied Japanese claims citizens continue to be held in the country.