TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan has decided for the first time in years not to submit to the United Nations a joint resolution condemning North Korea’s human rights abuses, given U.S. efforts to end North Korea’s weapons programme and other factors, Japan said on Wednesday.
Japan and the European Union have submitted a motion condemning North Korea’s rights record to the United Nations every year since 2008. North Korea has repeatedly rejected accusations of rights abuses.
“The decision was made taking into consideration various factors comprehensively, such as results of the summit meeting between the United States and North Korea and the situation of Japan’s abduction issue,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held their second summit last month on U.S. demands that North Korea dismantle its nuclear programme in exchange for security guarantees and the lifting of sanctions.
But the talks in Vietnam broke down without agreement.
Staunch U.S. ally Japan is keeping a wary eye on the dialogue between the United States and North Korea amid concern a deal between those old foes could lead to a scaling back of U.S. commitments in East Asia.
Japan also worries that its crucial issue of the fate of its citizens abducted by North Korean agents will take a back seat to nuclear and missile issues in U.S.-North Korean talks.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Trump had raised the issue of kidnapped Japanese citizens in his summit with Kim.
Abe has said Japan was committed to normalising diplomatic relations with North Korea but several issues, including North Korea’s kidnapping of its citizens, must be resolved first.
North Korea admitted in 2002 it had kidnapped 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s to train as spies, and five of them returned to Japan. Japan suspects that hundreds more may have been taken.
(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Robert Birsel)