TOKYO – Japan hoped on Tuesday that North Korea would behave responsibly after it reaffirmed its commitment to denuclearization following a historic summit with the United States in Singapore.
At a press conference at the end of the summit between the US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Japanese government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga avoided commenting on the outcome of Tuesday’s summit until Trump briefs Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over the telephone.
While Trump and Kim were busy in the Singapore summit, Abe had hoped the talks would end Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development program.
“North Korea has rich (natural) resources and a diligent workforce. It will have a bright future if it treads the right path,” Abe had said at a press conference in Tokyo after a meeting with his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohamad, local news agency Kyodo reported.
Foreign Minister Taro Kono had spoken to his US counterpart, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo immediately after the summit, although the contents of their conversation remain unknown.
Kono, who has been wary of the summit, had earlier said “the focus is on whether North Korea will show its clear engagement in efforts toward abandoning all weapons of mass destruction and missiles of all ranges.”
The Japanese foreign minister is set to visit Seoul between June 13-14 to meet with Pompeo and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.
“Even if a certain promise is made at the summit, we should be careful about lowering the guard until we can confirm that specific steps have been taken” to fulfill it, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera had said.
Tokyo has been very skeptical of the US-North Korea dialogue and has favored maintaining “maximum pressure” on the regime, a strategy promoted by Trump who, however, had softened his tone in the run up to the summit.