March 14, 2019 13:26
The Japanese government will not take part in the drafting of this year's UN resolution condemning North Korea's human rights abuses, of which it had been a leading light so far, the island country's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday.
There is speculation that Japan secretly offered a deal to North Korea, which is desperate after its summit with the U.S. in Hanoi last month collapsed.
Diplomatic sources speculated that Tokyo is setting itself up as a new mediator for North Korea to get Pyongyang to reveal the fate of Japanese victims of a bizarre abduction campaign in the 1970s and 80s.
"Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said it is important for Japan to take the lead in responding to the abductee issue and believes he should sit face to face with [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un," Suga told reporters.
Japan's Liberal Democratic Party faces public pressure to deal with the issue as regional and parliamentary elections approach in April and July.
Earlier this month, Abe met the families of some abduction victims and told them he wished to "solve the problem by using all possible means" and added that he wants to hold his own summit with Kim.
The UN resolution was first adopted in 2003 and has continued to be declared each year led by Japan and the EU. South Korea has frequently abstained.
The UN Human Rights Council will convene its 40th annual meeting next week and discuss the latest resolution, but Japan is taking a back seat. Tokyo is trying to bolster its diplomatic role in Northeast Asia as China flexes its military muscle.
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