Matsuno rejects N.Korea's claim on abduction issue

Japan's top government spokesperson has criticized North Korea for claiming that the issue of the abductions of Japanese nationals has already been settled. He says the claim is totally unacceptable.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu told reporters on Friday that the government's policy on North Korea has not changed.

He said Japan aims to comprehensively resolve the abductions, nuclear and missile issues, settle the past and normalize ties with North Korea, in line with the 2002 Pyongyang Declaration.

The declaration was signed at a bilateral summit in the North Korean capital. Five Japanese abductees returned to Japan one month later.

The Japanese government officially recognizes 17 abductees, including these five. The other 12 remain unaccounted for.

Matsuno said the abduction issue is the most important matter for the Cabinet and there is no time to lose in resolving the issue as the families of the abductees are getting old.

He said Prime Minister Kishida Fumio has expressed his resolve to face North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without any preconditions.

Matsuno said he will keep in mind the feelings of the families and will make the utmost efforts without missing any opportunity to bring back all the abductees as soon as possible.