North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, leads the 6th Meeting of the 8th Central Committee on Jan. 19, 2022.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, leads the 6th Meeting of the 8th Central Committee on Jan. 19, 2022. (Korean Central News Agency)

SEOUL, South Korea — Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and a prominent politician herself, has dismissed the idea of her brother meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, according to North Korea’s state media.

A summit meeting of the kind Japan requested “is not a matter of concern” for Pyongyang any longer, Kim Yo Jong said in a statement published Tuesday by the Korean Central News Agency. Tokyo had “no courage to change history … and take the first step for fresh [North Korea]-Japan relations,” she said, according to KCNA.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi acknowledged on Monday a KCNA report that Kishida had asked to meet with Kim “as soon as possible.”

The Japanese government had been reaching out to North Korea to resolve lingering issues, namely the communist regime’s abduction of Japanese citizens and its continued weapons tests, Hayashi said.

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs alleges North Korea abducted 17 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s. Then-North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on Sept. 17, 2002, admitted and apologized for 13 abductions during the first Japan-North Korea summit with then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Five surviving abductees were returned to Japan one month after that summit. At a second summit May 22, 2004, in Pyongyang, the abductees’ North Korean family members were permitted to rejoin them in Japan. 

North Korea has since claimed that all the abductees were returned to Japan and that the matter is settled.

So far this year, North Korea has test fired several ballistic missiles, including a solid-fueled intermediate-range missile from its eastern coast on Jan. 14. 

The regime last fired several short-range ballistic missiles in succession on March 18, according to South Korea’s military. The Japanese Defense Ministry said it counted at least three missiles launched. 

A long-range ballistic missile fired by North Korea toward the Sea of Japan, or the East Sea, on April 13 prompted Japan’s alert system to warn Hokkaido residents to seek shelter.

The topics being raised by Kishida are “unattainable issues which can never be settled,” according to Kim Yo Jong’s statement.

North Korea has “only clarified its stand that it would welcome Japan if it is ready to make a new start, not being obsessed by the past,” the statement added.

Kishida responded at a news conference Tuesday. “Japan would like to continue its efforts to resolve the outstanding issues with North Korea based on its existing policy,” according to a Mainichi Shimbun report that day.

Stars and Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.

David Choi is based in South Korea and reports on the U.S. military and foreign policy. He served in the U.S. Army and California Army National Guard. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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