TOKYO – Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday he plans to visit the U.S. this month to discuss North Korea with U.S. President Donald Trump ahead of expected summits between the North and the U.S. and South Korea.
Abe said he will travel to the U.S. from April 17 to 20 and hold two days of talks with Trump at the president’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida to discuss North Korea and bilateral issues. Trump has said he will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by the end of May.
“I hope to thoroughly discuss North Korea and other issues of mutual interest between Japan and the U.S.,” Abe said at a meeting of representatives from his ruling coalition and the government.
Abe has said he wants to remind Trump of shorter-range missiles and other North Korean security threats for Japan, and seek U.S. help on the issue of Japanese abducted by North Korea decades ago.
Abe is also expected to discuss stiff U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and urge Trump to exclude Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
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The abductees’ families last Friday urged Abe to seek Trump’s help, saying this could be their last chance to win their loved ones’ release.
Japan has said North Korea abducted at least 17 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s to train agents in Japanese language and culture to spy on South Korea. Pyongyang, after years of denials, acknowledged in 2002 abducting 13 Japanese. The North allowed five of them to visit Japan later that year – and they stayed – but said the other eight had died, though their families say what the North said cannot be trusted.
Abe last visited Trump’s resort in February 2017, soon after the president took office.