North Korea Claims Japan’s Prime Minister Wants to Meet

( – North Korea announced that it has been plied with a request to meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday, March 25. The North claimed they received a back-channel request for a meeting between the two leaders without elaborating on specifics. The two nations do not have regular diplomatic ties and haven’t met for a summit in roughly two decades.

Japan did not react to the announcement. Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, said that they don’t anticipate a breakthrough in Japan-North Korea relations anytime soon. She said that Japan’s claim that North Korea still has Japanese citizens it illegally abducted is hampering their diplomatic relationship.

North Korea previously admitted to abducting Japanese citizens in 2002, though they claimed they let them all go or they had died while in custody. Japan has suggested there may still be additional Japanese nationals being held in North Korea. Kim Yo Jong also suggested that the North’s weapon testing was a part of its “exercise of sovereign rights” and that interference from Japan isn’t well tolerated.

She added that as long as those two points remain large features of Japanese-North Korea diplomacy there is little to discuss, claiming his offer is merely an attempt to boost his own popularity.

Kim Yo Jong also suggested that Japan “is hostile” toward the North without acknowledging that they’ve fired multiple missiles in the direction of Japan, not the other way around. She further added that Kishida shouldn’t anticipate a meeting with her brother simply because he made a request for one.

Similar statements were put out by the North in February with Kim Yo Jong going so far as to invite Kishida to Pyongyang. She made similar claims at the time stressing that bilateral relations only have room to grow if Japan drops the issue about prisoners and acknowledges the North’s “legitimate right to self-defense.”

Experts have previously suggested that Japan is the weakest link in the South Korea-US-Japan trilateral alliance.

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