Japanese PM downplays possibility of visiting DPRK

Updated: 2014-06-03 19:59


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TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday that it is still premature to talk about the possibility of paying a visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), which said recently it will reinvestigate the whereabouts of the Japanese it abducted in the 1970s and 1980s.

"It's too early to make a decision on that," Abe was quoted as saying before his departure for three European countries at the Haneda airport, adding he would like to urge the DPRK to produce results in the probe.

Abe made the remarks when asked if he may visit the country in the final stages of bilateral negotiations on the issue.

Meanwhile, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said early Monday that the prime minister's visit to the DPRK could be an option to settle the issue, which is one of the major obstacles for the two countries to establish diplomatic tie.

Kishida said at an upper house session on foreign and defense affairs that the government would study a trip by Abe to the DPRK to resolve the issue, but added that "nothing has been decided at present."

The DPRK admitted that it abducted 13 Japanese when then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited the DPRK in September 2002.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Sunday said Japan will dispatch officials, probably diplomats and police, to the DPRK to monitor and verify the reinvestigation and they would also be expected to deal with any surviving abductees.

The officials would stay in the DPRK for a short period initially and Tokyo wants to make them resident officials and set a permanent office, according to local report.

Japan and the DPRK held the latest round of intergovernmental talks May 28 in Stockholm and announced May 29 that the DPRK will conduct a thorough investigation into Japanese it abducted in the 1970s and 1980s.

Japan said on May 29 that it would partially lift its unilateral sanctions on the DPRK after the latter sets up the investigation committee.