Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe talks to media after speaking with his US counterpart about meeting in early April. Photo: The Yomiuri Shimbun via AFP

The Asahi Shimbun quotes a source close to North Korea as saying that a summit between leader Kim Jong-un and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could take place by early June.

The source says North Korea’s government recently briefed the higher echelons of the ruling Workers’ Party about the possibility of a meeting between Kim and Abe.

The discussion of such a breakthrough between Pyongyang and Tokyo was outlined in a document used in “study sessions” for the political education of high-ranking party officials by the Central Committee, the source said.

The paper extolled Kim’s diplomatic skills and detailed the separate foreign policy directions to be taken in dealing with South Korea, the US, China, Japan and Russia, “in that order.” It also seems to be the first clear sign of interest by Pyongyang in a Japan-North Korea summit since Kim assumed power in December 2011.

Japanese feelers
The document also noted that the Japanese government has put out feelers on a possible summit, according to Asahi.

“The Japanese government has recently indicated an interest in holding a summit meeting with North Korea through communications going through the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon),” the document states, referring to the pro-Pyongyang organization in Tokyo that serves as the North’s de facto embassy in the absence of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Pyongyang has agreed to summit talks with Seoul in late April. US President Donald Trump and Kim are also planning to meet by the end of May.

Asahi said Kim’s surprise visit to Beijing this week for talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping is another development that appears to reflect North Korea’s priorities in the briefing paper.

Billions in aid from Japan?
“While the United States is viewed by North Korea as the only country that can guarantee its security, Japan is regarded as the only nation that can provide significant economic support,” the source was quoted as saying.

“There are expectations in North Korea that Japan could provide an economic assistance package ranging anywhere between $20 billion to $50 billion (2.1 trillion yen to 5.3 trillion yen) once diplomatic relations are normalized,” the source added.