Japan-North Korea meeting to proceed

Japan-North Korea meeting to proceed
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday that he hopes to resume formal talks with North Korea as soon as possible.

The Japanese government will hold formal talks at the director general level with North Korea as scheduled, despite the launch of two missiles on Wednesday, according to officials.

North Korea launched Rodong medium-range missiles with a range of 1,300 kilometers into the Sea of Japan on Wednesday, in an apparent warning over the three-way summit talks between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and US President Barack Obama.

Observers said Japan does not intend to cancel or postpone the meeting, the first to be held at the director general level in 16 months, as it does not wish to halt progress on resolving the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents.

In December 2012, the Japanese government postponed a scheduled meeting with the North Korean government at the director general level because the latter publicly announced the launch of a "satellite" that was in fact a long-range ballistic missile.

However, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday at a press conference: "The Abe administration is determined to thoroughly resolve pending issues, including abduction, and nuclear and missile problems. We have decided to fairly and squarely lodge a protest by having a meeting [with North Korea]."

His statement indicated that the government is not considering canceling or putting off the formal meeting.

In mid-March, Shigeru and Sakie Yokota, the parents of abductee Megumi Yokota, met with Megumi's daughter Kim Eun Gyong.

As family members of the abducted Japanese people are growing old, the government "does not want to lose momentum in a bilateral dialogue that has come after a long hiatus," according to a government official.

The latest Rodong missiles were launched from a location near Sukchon, about 50 kilometers north of Pyongyang, on the west coast of the Korean Peninsula.

 

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