TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan will work closely together with relevant countries for the success of the upcoming US-North Korea summit, public broadcaster NHK reported on Friday (May 11).
US President Donald Trump announced in a Twitter post on Thursday (May 10) that the meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will be held in Singapore on June 12.
"The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th. We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!" Mr Trump wrote.
Mr Abe, speaking to reporters from Sapporo, welcomed the announcement and said that the dialogue will be key to resolving the abductions, nuclear and ballistic missile issue, and stressed that Japan will work with relevant countries, with the US at the centre, so that the summit will be successful.
"I would like to welcome the official decision of the date and venue of the US-North Korea talks. Through this historic dialogue, I have strong expectations of progress on the nuclear problem, ballistic missile problem, and more important than anything, the abduction issue," he said.
He added: "From hereon preparatory work will proceed further towards the US-North Korea talks. While firmly telling the US of Japan's thoughts, we would like to work together with the US on the preparations. I would like to continue to work closely with US President Trump through such means as telephone talks."
Reuters reported that Mr Abe and Mr Trump spoke by telephone on Wednesday (May 9), adding that the White House said they "affirmed" the shared goal of North Korea abandoning its nuclear weapons programme.
Japan worries it could be the target of any first use of nuclear weapons by Pyongyang.
"Japan is determined to do its utmost so that the various problems related to North Korea can be resolved through the successful talks between the two leaders. To this end, Japan will play a firm role in the frameworks of Japan-US, Japan-US-ROK, as well as with China, Russia and the international community," Mr Abe said.
In comments to the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said, "We can see progress step by step towards the US-North Korea talks. During their summit, starting from the nuclear arsenal, as well as the weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, Japan has high expectations of the eventual achievement of complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement (CVID)."
During Mr Trump's presidency, Mr Kim has overseen a series of weapons tests to showcase his military's progress on medium- and long-range missiles and atomic weapons that put the world on edge.
Last year, the North conducted more than a dozen tests that had missiles flying over the Sea of Japan, while another led experts to believe North Korea could possibly hit the mainland United States with a missile.
On the issue of Japanese abductions by North Korea, Mr Kono said: "Mr Trump has raised on behalf of Japan the abductions issue, and so we will await North Korea's response. As a representative and on behalf of the international community, Mr Trump will firmly negotiate with North Korea."
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. Tokyo suspects that hundreds more may have been taken.
Meanwhile, Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) former defence minister General Nakatani told a LDP gathering: "For Japan there is the abduction issue, for which there cannot be any progress without any form of negotiations with North Korea, and so I would like Japan to firmly respond to the momentum of the US-North Korea summit meeting."
He added: "To ensure that the promises to denuclearise are not just empty verbal promises, we must pay strong attention to whether any diplomatic documents are to be created in a manner that clearly specifies the time and means for the complete, verifiable and irreversible disposal of the nuclear programme. As Japan we would also like to cooperate on this."