TOKYO – United States Vice President Mike Pence is set to visit Japan next week and discuss issues related to North Korea with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the official spokesperson of the Japanese government announced on Thursday.
Pence is to stop in Japan on his way to Singapore, where he will participate in a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which will begin on Tuesday.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga confirmed Pence’s visit to Tokyo and his meeting with Abe next Tuesday before the US leader leaves for Singapore on the same day.
Suga said in his daily press conference that the meeting will be a good opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations on pressing issues, such as North Korea.
The minister did not give details of the topics to be discussed, although Tokyo has been closely following the process of North Korea’s denuclearization, an initiative of the US administration led by President Donald Trump.
Japan has also sought international support for demanding a resolution of the kidnapping of at least 17 Japanese citizens by North Korean agents between 1977-1983.
The US vice president will arrive in Tokyo days after Washington postponed a meeting between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a North Korean delegation.
The aim of the meeting, scheduled to be held in New York, was to prepare for a second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, for which the date and venue are yet to be decided.
Suga refused to comment on the results of the recently held US midterm elections and said the US-Japan alliance remained firm.
In a press conference on Wednesday Trump alleged that Japan did not treat the US “fairly” in their trade relations.
“They send in millions of cars at a very low tax. They don’t take our cars,” he had said, repeating a position he has also taken earlier.