Japan's top government spokesperson has sought to clarify Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's remarks that he aims to meet North Korea's leader "without preconditions."
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga spoke to reporters on Tuesday, a day after Abe said he hopes to arrange talks with Kim Jong Un in order to resolve the issue of North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals.
Suga said Abe has long expressed his resolve to face Kim directly, in order to break the shell of mutual distrust and resolve the North's nuclear, missile and abduction issues.
He said Abe's latest remarks express his determination in a more clear-cut manner.
Suga said Japan needs to take the initiative in tackling the abduction issue. He added the government hopes to take bold action, without missing any possible opportunities for progress, as the abductees' relatives in Japan are growing old.
Suga also stressed that the government's policy on North Korea has not changed. He said Japan aims to comprehensively resolve the abductions, nuclear and missile issues, settle the past and normalize ties with North Korea, in line with the 2002 Pyongyang Declaration.
The declaration was signed at a bilateral summit held in the North Korean capital. Five Japanese abductees returned to Japan one month later.
Japan's government officially recognizes 17 abductees, including these five. The other 12 remain unaccounted for.