North Korea Is Ready to Boost Bilateral Ties With Japan, Which Just Lost Its Spot as World's Third-Largest Economy

By Jace Dela Cruz

Feb 16, 2024 06:27 AM EST

In a rare move, North Korea offered a gesture of goodwill to Japan on Thursday, saying the two nations "can open up a new future together." In a statement, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, expressed openness to improve her country's relations with Japan, even suggesting the possibility of a future invitation for Japan's leader to visit Pyongyang.

According to AFP, Kim's remarks followed Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's recent statement indicating a desire to change the current relationship between Tokyo and Pyongyang.

Inter-Korean Summit 2018
(Photo : Korea Summit Press Pool/Getty Images)
PANMUNJOM, SOUTH KOREA - APRIL 27: North Koraen Leader Kim Jong Un (L) and sister Kim Yo Jong attend the Inter-Korean Summit at the Peace House on April 27, 2018 in Panmunjom, South Korea.

Ties of North Korea and Japan

"I think there would be no reason not to appreciate his recent speech as a positive one if it was prompted by his real intention to boldly free himself from the past fetters," Kim Yo Jong, who is the vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, said in the statement.

Kim further noted that the two nations "can open up a new future together" depending on Japan's actions after some issues, such as North Korea's kidnapping of Japanese citizens in the 70s and 80s, which remain an emotional issue in Japan, "had been settled."

Kim added that there "will be no reason for the two countries not to become close, and the day of the prime minister's Pyongyang visit might come."

North Korea admitted to abducting 13 Japanese citizens in 2002 for espionage training and apologized. However, suspicions remain in Japan that more of its citizens were kidnapped than have been officially acknowledged.

READ NEXT: North Korea Junks All Economic Cooperation Deals With South Korea as Kim Jong Un Claims Legal Right to Destroy South

Japan Loses Its Spot as the World's Third-Largest Economy

Japan has just lost its spot as the world's third-largest economy after it shrank in the last quarter of 2023 and fell behind Germany. According to BBC, Japan unexpectedly slipped into recession after its economy contracted for two consecutive quarters.

The country's gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 0.4% in the past three months of 2023 compared to a year earlier. It happened after the economy contracted by 3.3% in the previous quarter. According to the Associated Press, Japan's economy was the second largest until 2010, when it was overtaken by China.

The United States is still the world's largest economy, with a GDP of $27.94 trillion in 2023, followed by China with a GDP of $17.5 trillion. Germany's GDP totaled $4.4 trillion last year, while Japan's was $4.2 trillion.  

READ MORE: Russia Warns Japan, South Korea Over Moves to Help Ukraine as US Unveils New Military Aid Package for Kyiv

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