Photo/IllutrationPrime Minister Shinzo Abe emerges with aides after finishing telephone talks with U.S. President Donald Trump on the night of May 6, over North Korea’s firing of projectiles on May 4. (Shiro Nishihata)

In a major policy reversal, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said May 6 that he wants to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with no conditions attached to resolve the issue of Pyongyang's abductions of Japanese citizens.

The prime minister announced the policy shift after holding talks with U.S. President Donald Trump over the phone for about 40 minutes on the night that day.

Abe said he conveyed his openness to meet Kim without conditions to Trump during their discussion.

“I will not miss out on any opportunities to resolve the abduction issue,” Abe told reporters. “I should meet with Kim myself. I believe that no conditions should be attached for the meeting to be achieved.”

The prime minister had previously ruled out a summit with the North Korean leader unless concrete progress had been made on the issue of abductions, which took place in the 1970s and 1980s.

Abe, however, made the about-face as the United States and North Korea are continuing talks, which have included two meetings between Trump and Kim since last year.

Abe believes that falling in step with the thaw between Washington and Pyongyang will help resolve the longstanding abduction issue.

It remains to be seen, however, whether Kim will agree to a meeting with Abe.

The main theme of Abe's phone talks with Trump was Pyongyang’s firing of projectiles into the Sea of Japan on the morning of May 4.

Abe said he talked with the president about how to respond to the North Korean launch.

The prime minister said he and Trump were in complete agreement on North Korea and that Tokyo and Washington will act together on the issue.

Abe said Japanese and U.S. experts are working together to analyze the projectiles.

Under a U.N. Security Council resolution, North Korea is prohibited from firing any projectiles using ballistic missile technology.

While U.S. and South Korean experts said they believe the projectiles included a ballistic missile, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed his intention not to censure Pyongyang and to continue with bilateral talks.

“They landed in the water east of North Korea and didn’t present a threat to the United States or to South Korea or Japan,” Pompeo said in an interview with Jonathan Karl on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" in the United States on May 5. “And we know that they were relatively short range. And beyond that-we know they weren’t intercontinental ballistic missiles either.”

Abe's announcement of his shift follows the Japanese government’s softening of its stance on Pyongyang in recent months.

Japan did not propose a resolution condemning North Korea at the U.N. Human Rights Council this year after calling for it every year from 2008 to 2018.

The Foreign Ministry’s 2019 Diplomatic Bluebook also dropped the expression of “maximizing pressure on North Korea.” Last year’s edition included the passage, noting the country’s nuclear and missile programs pose “grave and imminent threats.”