Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on Thursday welcomed the announcement that North Korea has agreed to suspend uranium enrichment and nuclear and long-range missile tests in a breakthrough in negotiations with the United States, which is set to provide food aid in return.
The rare simultaneous announcements in Pyongyang and Washington pointed toward an easing of nuclear tensions under new leader Kim Jong-Un and could clear the way for resumption of multi-nation disarmament-for-aid talks that the North withdrew from in 2009.
Speaking in the Diet, Noda said that he hoped the agreement would lead to a breakthrough in the abduction issue which has been at an impasse for several years.
Noda also said that Japan still has concerns regarding the denuclearization of North Korea and its missile launches.
The Japanese government has been hoping that the change of regime in Pyongyang after the death of Kim Jong-Il in December would lead to new talks on the abductions.
Noda has already asked Chinese and South Korean leaders to tell North Korea’s new leadership that it “must make progress” in addressing the aduction issue if bilateral ties are to be improved.
Earlier this week, Glyn Davies, the U.S. special representative on North Korea, visited Tokyo to brief Japanese leaders on his talks with North Korean officials in Beijing.
Davies said he had asked the North Korean side to reexamine the abduction question, but said he had nothing more tangible to report to Tokyo.© Japan Today/AP