N.Korea addresses Japan's new prime minister

A research institute affiliated with North Korea's foreign ministry has issued a warning about Japan's new Prime Minister Kishida Fumio having raised the abduction issue during talks with leaders of other nations. The institute claimed the issue has already been resolved.

The Tokyo-based Radiopress news agency noted that this was the first time that North Korea has officially mentioned Kishida as prime minister.

North Korea's Institute for Studies of Japan released a statement through the foreign ministry's website on Thursday, three days after Kishida took office.

The statement alluded to phone talks held between Kishida and US President Joe Biden on Tuesday, Japan time. Kishida sought Biden's understanding and cooperation to bring a prompt resolution to the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea.

The statement says the prime minister "has reportedly raised the abduction issue during the conversations he had with the leaders of other countries following his assumption of power."

It continues, "The abduction issue was long resolved perfectly and completely with the visits to Pyongyang by the then Japanese Prime Minister in September 2002 and May 2004, and the subsequent sincerity and efforts from our side."

The statement also demands that Tokyo make "thorough apology and reparation" for damage inflicted on people in what is now North Korea during Japan's colonial era.

The statement adds that the two nations' bilateral ties would "most likely" be "gloomier if the Japanese Prime Minister makes a wrong start from the beginning," as it says he is doing.

Kishida called the head of a group of abductees' relatives on Tuesday, and told him that the repatriation of those still missing is a top priority for his government.