Japan’s PM voices willingness to push for summit with N. Korea

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday expressed his intent to continue efforts to hold a summit with North Korea despite Pyongyang's recent refusal of all contact with Tokyo. Kishida made the remarks two days after the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un issued a statement refusing all contact with Japan after Tokyo took issue with the problem of Japanese abductees and the North's nuclear program. "Realizing a fruitful relationship between Japan and North Korea is aligned with the interests of both sides," Kishida said in response to a question on the statement during a press conference at the prime minister's residence. "My thought that this also greatly contributes to regional peace and stability remains unchanged," Kishida said, adding he hopes to pursue a high-level response on various pending issues, including that of abductees. The two countries have long been at odds over the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 80s to train spies in Japanese culture and language. The North later allowed five of the abductees to visit their homeland and claimed eight others were dead, but Tokyo has dismissed the claim and vowed to secure their safe return. Following Kishida's remarks that he felt a "strong need" to change the current relationship between Tokyo and Pyongyang, North Korea in February said it was open to improving its relationship with Japan. But in a statement issued Tuesday, Kim's sister, Yo-jong, accused the Japanese prime minister of using the two countries' relations for political gain amid low approval ratings. Source: Yonhap News Agency