Photo/IllutrationChief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga responds to a reporter's question at his daily news conference. (Takeshi Iwashita)

For the first time in 11 years, Japan will not sponsor a U.N. resolution criticizing Pyongyang’s human rights record, a change that reflects Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s desire for a summit with North Korea.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at his March 13 news conference that the decision was made “after comprehensively considering the result of the (February) summit between the United States and North Korea as well as various circumstances surrounding the abduction issue.”

Suga said the decision does not represent a change in the government’s position of working closely with the international community to resolve issues related to North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs as well as the country’s abductions of Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s.

Abe said he wanted to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after the first summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim last year.

However, there has been no momentum toward an Abe-Kim summit.

“North Korea dislikes criticism from the international community about its human rights,” a government source said. “There is value in trying a different approach to change North Korea’s attitude.”

Every year since 2008, Japan has submitted resolutions criticizing North Korea to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The resolutions submitted to the Human Rights Council have been co-sponsored with the European Union. The EU is expected to sponsor such a resolution this year. The Japanese government plans to vote in favor of it but not sponsor it.

However, the government may face criticism from lawmakers of both the ruling coalition and opposition who are calling for a tougher approach toward North Korea.