North Korea leader’s sister says Japan PM’s comments positive – KCNA

By Thomson Reuters Feb 15, 2024 | 6:01 AM

SEOUL (Reuters) – The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said there is no impediment to closer ties with Japan and there may come a day Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visits Pyongyang, state news agency KCNA said on Thursday.

Kishida, whose nation has no formal diplomatic ties with Pyongyang, has said he was exploring possibilities to meet North Korea’s leader to resolve the matter of Japanese civilians abducted in the 1970s and 1980s.

Kim Yo Jong, a deputy department director in the ruling Workers’ Party, said Kishida’s comments could be considered positive if meant to advance relations.

“If Japan … makes a political decision to open a new path for improving ties based on mutual respect and respectful behaviour, it is my view that the two countries can open a new future,” she was quoted as saying.

Japan has been critical of North Korea’s pursuit of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, often drawing harsh rebukes from Pyongyang, especially as Tokyo stepped up its security alliance with South Korea and the United States.

Kim added her view was a personal observation and, as far as she knew, the North’s leadership had no specific plans for its relations with Japan or to make contact with Tokyo, KCNA said.

Kim is widely considered the closest confidant and adviser to her brother on external policy matters.

(Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)