It was a fairly big surprise. Isao Iijima, a Japanese envoy, landed in Beijing earlier today—after leaving Pyongyang. The envoy had apparently gone to North Korea on Tuesday. Tensions seem to have cooled in the region after the rogue regime threatened nuclear war against South Korea and the United States.
That was the response to stricter UN sanctions imposed on North Korea after its third, and successful, nuclear test in February.
The Japanese envoy was unwilling to discuss the details of his talks with what he describes as the top North Korean leadership. But he did say the talks were serious and lengthy.
A long-standing source of tension between Japan and North Korea has been the abduction of several Japanese nationals several decades ago in the 70’s and 80’s. Pyongyang has admitted the purpose of the abduction was to train spies.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday that he would be open to talks between the two countries over the kidnapped Japanese nationals.
Today, the US special representative for North Korea policy, Glyn Davies, said he was puzzled by Iijima’s visit. According to Japanese media Asahi Shimbun, Davies said he did understand Japan’s intention to resolve the abduction issue.