Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed the joint statement signed by U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore as a first step in the denuclearization of North Korea.

"We see this as a step in a comprehensive resolution," Abe said in Tokyo.

Japan wants North Korea to agree to a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization. In the joint statement Kim committed North Korea "to work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

Abe added that he "would like to thank the president (Trump) for raising the abduction issue," referring to Japan's demand that Pyongyang release any remaining Japanese people it abducted to train its spies.