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PM of Japan may visit North Korea and meet with Kim Jong-un

PM of Japan may visit North Korea and meet with Kim Jong-un Photo: Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida (Getty Images)

Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida expressed a desire to meet with Kim Jong-un in North Korea to address the issue of abducted Japanese citizens, informs Kyodo.

Kishida also promised that his government would make every effort to bring back all citizens abducted by North Korea.

The Prime Minister's statements were made during a meeting in his office with the families of the abducted, who recently stated that they would not oppose any actions by Japan to lift sanctions against North Korea if Pyongyang immediately returns all those kidnapped.

At the end of last month, the families and supporters of the abducted formulated their future policy and confirmed that they would not oppose the Japanese government providing humanitarian aid to North Korea if the abduction victims continue to be repatriated.

It's worth noting that while there are no diplomatic relations between the two Asian countries, Junichiro Koizumi became the first Japanese prime minister to visit Pyongyang in 2002, leading to the return of five abductees.

Abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korea

North Korean intelligence agencies in the 1970s and 1980s abducted, by various estimates, between 13 to 80 Japanese citizens. The Japanese government acknowledges the abduction of 17 individuals. In North Korea, the abductees were involved in training for espionage operations on Japanese soil, including teaching Japanese language and culture to intelligence operatives.

Remarkably, abductions represent one of the few cases of human rights violations in North Korea officially recognized by the North Korean authorities. In 2002, during a visit by Japan's Prime Minister Koizumi to North Korea, Kim Jong-ir acknowledged the fact of 13 out of 17 abductions, leading to the repatriation of five abducted Japanese citizens.

Later, five members of their families, including children born in North Korea, also relocated from Korea to Japan. The fate of the remaining abductees remains unknown. North Korea claims that they either died in North Korea or simply denies any involvement in their disappearance.