Japan wary of talks with N. Korea

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe government has welcomed the prospect of a summit meeting between the leaders of the United States and North Korea, but is wary of being cast aside in future negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to visit the United States in early April. He intends to reaffirm with U.S. President Donald Trump their stance of pressuring Pyongyang to completely abandon its nuclear and missile programs.

“We’ll place maximum pressure on North Korea until it takes concrete actions,” Abe told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office after speaking on the telephone with Trump on Friday morning. “The position taken by Japan and the United States will never be shaken.”

The Japanese government is skeptical about North Korea’s intention to denuclearize and has taken a stance of maintaining pressure on Pyongyang until it takes concrete steps toward the complete, verifiable and irreversible abandonment of its nuclear and missile programs.

Washington informed Tokyo in advance that it planned to agree to U.S.-North Korea summit talks, according to a senior Foreign Ministry official.

However, the situation on the Korean Peninsula has significantly developed, and the emergence of plans for inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korea summit meetings has led to growing concern within the Japanese government. One official said, “Japan will be left behind.”

Trump is seen as having a close relationship with Abe. However, the U.S. president’s words and actions are unpredictable. One government source said, “The United States could only seek a freeze on [North Korea’s] nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile development, and not on short- and medium-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching Japan.”

Foreign Minister Taro Kono is scheduled to visit the United States in mid-March. He plans to meet his U.S. counterpart Rex Tillerson and others to reaffirm cooperation in dealing with North Korea. Speech

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