TOKYO: Three of the four candidates in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election expressed their eagerness Monday to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to resolve the abduction issue.
The three were regulatory reform minister KONO Taro, 58, former party policy leader KISHIDA Fumio, 64, and former internal affairs minister TAKAICHI Sanae, 60. The remaining one was Seiko Noda, 61, the LDP’s executive acting secretary-general.
The four had policy debates in an online session jointly hosted by the youth and women’s affairs divisions of the LDP ahead of its Sept. 29 election to pick the successor to President SUGA Yoshihide, the country’s prime minister.
“North Korea is a country with a very unique political system. It will be necessary to hold a summit,” Kono said regarding the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals decades ago.
Kono also said that Japan will need to communicate closely with the United States, China, South Korea and Russia to lay the groundwork for such a meeting.
“We’ll need to realize a top-level meeting in the end,” Kishida said. “It’s important to prepare scenarios carefully.”
Kishida also said it is necessary to discuss North Korean issues with U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration.
“I want to create an opportunity of a one-on-one meeting,” Takaichi said, showing her readiness to visit North Korea for such a session.
Noda referred to the need to establish channels of dialogue with North Korea.
The four candidates also discussed LDP reforms.
Kono proposed boosting the weight of votes representing rank-and-file party members and supporters in a presidential election runoff between top two candidates that is carried out if no candidate wins a majority in the first round of voting.
He also unveiled the idea of holding an annual party convention, currently held in Tokyo for one day, for several days outside the Japanese capital. Also proposed was the establishment of party branches in various universities across Japan.
Kishida called for digitalizing the party membership application procedure and introducing online voting in presidential elections.
Noda proposed relaxing the rule requiring presidential election candidates to collect 20 signatures of party lawmakers, which had blocked her from entering such a race more than once.
Regarding a proposed constitutional revision, Kono, Kishida and Noda mentioned the need to build a consensus among ruling and opposition parties and the public.
Takaichi said Japan needs to accelerate discussions to update its top charter by increasing meetings of the commissions on the Constitution at both chambers of the Diet, the country’s parliament.