Japan's top diplomat in South Korea to discuss North Korea, abductions

  • Japan's top diplomat in South Korea to discuss North Korea, abductions

Japan's top diplomat in South Korea to discuss North Korea, abductions

"With preparations underway for South Korea and the United States' summits with North Korea, which could serve as a major turning point in attaining denuclearization, (we) hope for cooperation to achieve the two countries' shared goal of peacefully resolving the North's nuclear issue and establishing peace", Kang said.

Kono arrived in South Korea late on Tuesday, on his first visit to the country since becoming foreign minister in August previous year.

South Korea and Japan yesterday vowed to work closely together on North Korea ahead of the looming inter-Korea summit, but their foreign ministers remained divided over long-standing issues of Japan's wartime crimes and disputed islands.

Japan is said to be concerned about possibly being sidelined from the current efforts to resolve the issue of the North's nuclear program, which are mostly being led by South Korea and the U.S.

Kono brought a message from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asking Moon to bring up the matter of Japanese victims of North Korean abductions in the 1970s and 1980s when Moon meets North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

They agreed that a pressure campaign and sanctions against North Korea will continue until there is progress in the process of North Korea's denuclearization.

Kang made it clear that Seoul can not accept any claim from Japan to the Dokdo Islets, according to the Foreign Ministry. North Korea acknowledged in 2002 that it had abducted 13 Japanese.

President Moon Jae-in has instructed his officials to prepare well for the inter-Korean summit so it can be a good guide for the U.S.

The relationship between Seoul and Tokyo turned sour when the new South Korean administration began demanding an official apology from the Japanese government for Japan's World War II atrocities against its Asian neighbors, such as its sexual slavery of thousands of Korean women. Kono also paid a courtesy call to Moon at the Blue House that afternoon.

According to the officials, Kono asked Kang to put a stop to a plan by a group of South Korean lawmakers to make a visit next week to islets in the Sea of Japan controlled by South Korea but claimed by Japan.

The Moon administration conducted a review of the bilateral deal struck on December 28, 2015, which included a Japanese government apology and a multimillion-dollar fund for the so-called comfort women victims, and concluded that the agreement was flawed and insufficient.