Kim Jong Un may be closely watching for who will succeed Shinzo Abe — given the Japanese prime minister’s legacy of fighting for abductees taken by North Korea, according to a report Friday.
“North Korea might be happy to hear that Abe will resign as he has taken a tough posture” on the issue, a diplomat said, the Japan Times reported.
Abe has called rescuing the Japanese nationals abducted by Pyongyang in the 1970s and ’80s his “life’s work,” according to the publication.
Five abductees returned to Japan in 2002 and Abe has been fighting for the return of a dozen more.
North Korea, however, believes it’s no longer an issue, claiming eight of the 12 have died and four never entered the nation.
On Friday, Abe, 65, announced he was resigning as the longest-serving prime minister in Japan history due to health issues. Abe was elected prime minister for the second time in December 2012, after serving a first term from 2006 to 2007.
Kim could now be “interested in whether the next Japanese prime minister will stick to the issue like Abe,” the diplomat said.
Abe recently said he’d be willing to hold a summit with Kim “without conditions” but one never materialized.
Kim wasn’t willing to meet Abe — who’s gotten support from President Trump over the abduction issue — as negotiations between North Korea and the US over denuclearizing the peninsula stalled, a Japanese government source told the Japan Times.