The summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un built a foundation for denuclearization on the Korean peninsula, but the process needs to be verifiable and irreversible, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a television interview Saturday.
Japan will contribute to the cost of denuclearization, but the money will go toward supporting the activities of the International Atomic Energy Agency, not directly to North Korea, Abe reiterated in the interview on Nippon TV’s “Wake Up! Plus” morning program. He said bearing the cost is natural because Japan feels the threat from the North’s nuclear arsenal and stands to benefit from peace.
“The agreement should have included complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization,” but in order to do that, “the deliberations take time,” Abe said. “For now, a conversation has begun. Let’s build trust on both sides.”
The prime minister’s comments built on those he made immediately following the historic June 12 summit in Singapore, that the agreement to work quickly toward complete denuclearization was a “first step.” Trump lauded the success of the first meeting between a sitting U.S. head of state and a North Korean leader, but a lack of detail in the statement has kindled skepticism over what he was able to accomplish.
During his post-summit press conference, Trump said Japan and South Korea as neighbors would help the North “very greatly” in paying the costs of denuclearization, while the U.S. wouldn’t need to contribute financially. Asked for details the following day, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference in Tokyo that the government would provide financial support for IAEA inspections.
In Saturday’s TV interview, Abe also said Japan will not provide economic assistance to North Korea until the abduction issue is solved. Abe has said he thankedTrump for raising the topic in his meeting with Kim, although it wasn’t included in the statement.
Abe has made the return of abductees a key political issue. Tokyo officially lists 17 of its citizens as having been kidnapped by North Korea in the late 1970s and early 1980s, five of whom returned home in 2002. As of April 2017, more than 12 million people had signed petitions from the families urging Abe to continue efforts to bring the rest home.