Abe to asks Trump to raise missing Japanese with Kim

TOKYO • Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (picture) will press Donald Trump to raise the issue of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea when the US president meets leader Kim Jong-un next week for nuclear talks.

Japan has been pushing to have its position heard on the emotive domestic issue of abductees during Trump’s summit with Kim, planned for Feb 27-28 in Hanoi.

Abe said he would bring up the matter in a telephone call with Trump that could come as soon as today, the two leaders’ first conversation in more than two months.

While Abe has tried to build a personal rapport with Trump, he has found himself on the outside looking in before the second US-North Korea summit.

Yesterday, Abe told relatives of Japanese abductees that he wanted to “convey my thoughts about how this problem should be resolved to President Trump when we hold our telephone summit”.

“I want to have him convey those thoughts to chairman Kim,” he said.

Seventeen Japanese, mostly in their 20s, were taken by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s, with five returned in 2002.

Japan hasn’t accepted North Korea’s contention that the others are dead.

Abe says that securing their return is his government’s most pressing issue with North Korean, even as he bolsters defences against the hundreds of missiles Pyongyang can fire at his country. — Bloomberg