TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide’s administration is paying attention to the North Korea policy of Joe Biden, who is certain to have won the US presidential election.
The Suga administration is trying to resolve the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea decades ago, which is high on his agenda. But whether Tokyo can make progress on the issue depends heavily on the course of the US relations with North Korea.
Japan will convey to Biden’s side its position on the abduction issue plus North Korea’s missile and nuclear development programs before the US presidential inauguration Jan. 20 next year, informed sources said.
On Sunday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato attended a meeting of Niigata Prefecture residents in the central Japan prefecture’s namesake capital and renewed the government’s determination to resolve the issue in cooperation with the next US administration.
“We’ll make full efforts to bring home all abductees as soon as possible,” said Kato, also minister in charge of the abduction issue.
Suga has expressed his readiness to hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without setting preconditions, taking over the policy of his predecessor, Shinzo Abe.
However, a senior Japanese government official said that North Korea has made “no reaction at all.”
In his first telephone talks with Biden on Thursday, Suga asked for US support and understanding for the abduction issue.
The two confirmed cooperation over North Korea issues only in general. Biden did not mention the abduction issue.
During the US presidential election campaign, Biden criticized President Donald Trump over his meetings with Kim.
Biden is likely to “take a hard line on North Korea to show a difference from Trump,” a Japanese government source said.
Meanwhile, uncertainty remains over the course Biden would take over major policy issues, which also include the novel coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
“It will take time before the United States and North Korea start to move,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said.