April 2 (UPI) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he will seek U.S. cooperation in dealing with North Korea when he meets with President Donald Trump later this month.
Abe and Trump will meet beginning on April 18, prior to Trump’s planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in May.
A previous meeting between the Trump and Abe, in February 2017, was judged a success by both countries, but Trump has recently taken a more critical stand against Japan. He said the trade deficit between the countries must be corrected, and Japan has not been exempted from Trump’s list of countries whose steel and aluminum imports will be subject to tariffs.
If Trump raises the issue of a free trade agreement between Japan and the United States, Abe might be pressured to make concessions, Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported. It added that an unidentified U.S. government official indicated that the dynamics of the Japan-U.S. relationship had changed, and that the era of managing bilateral relations based solely on the personal relationship between the two leaders is over.
Abe said he will bring up the issue of North Korea abducting people from Japanese coastal areas between 1977 and 1983. The victims were kidnapped for a variety of purposes, including teaching Japanese to North Korea spies. Japan says 17 people were abducted. North Korea admits to abducting 13.
“I am planning to visit Mar-a-Lago in Florida and hold Japan-U.S. summit talks for two days over matters of mutual interest, including the issue of North Korea,” Abe told a meeting of senior Japanese government leaders on Friday, the Japan Times reported. “I will request in person that President Trump raise the abduction issue, which is the most important question, during the upcoming U.S.-North Korean summit.”
In a statement, the White House did not mention the abduction issue.
It said only that Abe and Trump would meet at Trump’s Florida estate to “discuss international campaign to maintain maximum pressure on North Korea” and to “explore ways to expand fair and reciprocal trade and investment ties between the United States and Japan.”