Japan abduction minister plans visit to Vietnam to discuss N. Korea

The government plans to send Keiji Furuya, state minister handling the issue of North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals, to Vietnam for talks with senior government officials, Japanese government sources said Tuesday.

During his four-day stay from July 28, Furuya is expected to discuss issues pertaining to North Korea and seek cooperation from Vietnam, which has diplomatic ties with Pyongyang, in trying to resolve the long-standing abduction issue, the sources said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to solve the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s during his tenure, and agreed with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung to work together during their talks in January.

The planned visit by Furuya comes as the government aims to increase pressure on North Korea, which has defied international calls to denuclearize amid criticism of its nuclear and missile development programs.

To win support on the abduction issue, Furuya made a similar trip in early July to Mongolia, another country that has diplomatic ties with North Korea.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference Tuesday that Tokyo is "coordinating closely with other countries to take all measures available" so the issue can be resolved soon.