Japan PM Abe open to summit with North Korea’s Kim

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and North Korea's Kim Jong Un. (AP)
Updated 26 September 2018
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Japan PM Abe open to summit with North Korea’s Kim

  • Trump in his own UN address earlier Tuesday pointed to his “bold and new push for peace” and saluted Kim’s courage

UNITED NATIONS, United States: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a longtime hard-liner on North Korea, said Tuesday he was willing to meet Kim Jong Un after the once reclusive leader’s historic summit with US President Donald Trump.
Abe, who one year ago warned at the United Nations that the window for diplomacy with North Korea was closing, took a more open but still cautious tone in his latest address to the world body.
But he said that any summit would be devoted to resolving a decades-old row over North Korea’s abductions of Japanese civilians — a deeply emotive issue for much of the Japanese public on which Abe built his political career.
“In order to resolve the abduction issue, I am also ready to break the shell of mutual distrust with North Korea, get off to a new start and meet face to face with Chairman Kim Jong Un,” Abe said in his UN address.
“But if we are to have one, then I am determined that it must contribute to the resolution of the abduction issue.”
He stressed that no summit was yet in the works — and appealed to Kim to show his own readiness.
“North Korea is now at a crossroads at which it will either seize or fail to seize the historic opportunity it was afforded,” Abe said.

North Korea kidnapped scores of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s to train the regime’s spies in Japanese language and culture.
Japan’s then prime minister Junichiro Koizumi traveled to Pyongyang in 2002 and 2004 to seek a new relationship with the current leader’s father Kim Jong Il and was told by North Korea that remaining abduction victims were dead — a stance adamantly rejected by Japanese family members and campaigners.
Speculation has been rising that Abe could meet with Kim, who reportedly told Trump during their summit in June in Singapore that he was willing to talk to arch-enemy Japan.
With South Korea’s dovish President Moon Jae-in also courting Kim, fears have risen in Japan that it could be shut out of any ultimate resolution on North Korea if it refuses dialogue.
Trump in his own UN address earlier Tuesday pointed to his “bold and new push for peace” and saluted Kim’s courage.
It was a far cry from a year ago, when Trump stunned assembled leaders by threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea and belittling “rocket man” Kim.
Despite Trump’s upbeat assessment of his own diplomacy, many analysts are skeptical on how much North Korea has changed, saying the regime has already conducted the tests it needed to build its nuclear and missile programs.
North Korea would be sure to press its own demand in any summit with Japan — an apology for Tokyo’s harsh 1910-1945 colonial rule over the Korean peninsula.
Beyond any moral dimension to an apology, North Korea would be hoping to secure badly needed cash. Japan paid South Korea some $800 million in loans, grants and credits when it established relations in 1965.

Abe will meet Wednesday with Trump, with whom he quickly formed a bond after the tycoon’s shock election victory. But Japan fears growing friction with Trump over trade.
While Trump has directed his fury on China, he has frequently complained about a deficit with Japan. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi have been meeting to address US complaints about trade barriers.
Abe devoted much of his address to trade, saying that Japan supported 856,000 jobs in the United States — more than any country except Britain.
Noting Japan’s limited natural resources, Abe said: “The very first country to prove through its own experience the principle that exists between trade and growth — a principle that has now become common sense — was Japan.”


Outrage as Philippines probes farmer ‘massacre’

Updated 3 min 47 sec ago
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Outrage as Philippines probes farmer ‘massacre’

MANILA: Philippine authorities said Monday they have launched a probe into the mass slaying of nine farmers gunned down after taking over part of a sugar plantation to grow food for themselves
The deadly attack has provoked outrage in the Philippines, as well as criticism of Manila’s slow-moving program to redistribute farmland to millions of sharecroppers — tenant farmers who give a part of each crop as rent — who remain mired in poverty.
The violence erupted Saturday on the central island of Negros, the center of the nation’s sugar industry and home to some of the country’s wealthiest landowners as well as some of its poorest farm workers.
Up to 40 gunmen attacked a group of about 25 people who had entered the plantation near the city of Sagay just hours earlier to sow their own crops.
“This was... a grim reflection of the decades-old failure of the government’s agrarian reform program to extricate poor Filipino farmers from vicious and degrading cycle of poverty,” Senator Leila De Lima said.
Authorities said they were investigating reports the farmers were killed by “goons” employed by either the landowner or entities that leased the land.
“We vow to mobilize all available resources to ensure that those responsible are held accountable,” Philippine national police chief Oscar Albayalde told reporters.
The Philippines passed a law in 1988 to redistribute public and private agricultural lands to landless farm workers.
Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones said his ministry has handed out 4.8 million hectares (12 million acres) to nearly three million people, but more than 800,000 hectares have yet to be broken up.
“There are areas such as these where we have not really been able to distribute (land titles), and maybe that’s one reason why some of our farmer brethren resorted to farming land that is not their own,” he said.
Lawsuits are either delaying or completely stopping the effort in some areas, including the Sagay plantation where the violence occurred, he added.
Farm workers account for about 20 million people, a fifth of the Philippine population, who live on less than two dollars a day, the government says.
“Children in Negros work in haciendas (plantations) together with their families because of poverty due to government’s neglect,” the children’s rights group Salinlahi Alliance said Sunday, denounced the killing as a “massacre.”