Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe concluded a visit to Cuba Friday with condemnation of North Korea`s nuclear "provocations" and a request for help from Pyongyang`s ally Havana to pursue a "world without nuclear weapons."
Abe, the first Japanese premier to visit Cuba, discussed the nuclear question in meetings with both Fidel and Raul Castro, the brothers who have ruled the communist island since 1959.
"Japan... is determined to continue working to achieve a world without nuclear weapons, with the help of Cuba and the rest of the international community," he told a press conference, speaking through a translator.
The comment came after Abe condemned North Korea`s recent nuclear weapons tests in his meeting Thursday with President Raul Castro.
"North Korea continues provocations including nuclear tests and the launch of ballistic missiles, which is posing a different level of threat to the region and Japan," he told Raul Castro, according to a readout of their conversation from the Japanese foreign ministry.
"I know Cuba has had a friendly relationship with North Korea. Having said this, I would point out that the peace and stability of East Asia is crucially important for Japan."
Abe also pressed for new efforts on nuclear disarmament in his meeting with former president Fidel Castro, Cuban media reports said.
Japan said Abe had also asked for the Cuban government`s "understanding and cooperation" on the sensitive issue of Japanese citizens believed to have been kidnapped by North Korea to train spies for the reclusive communist state.
North Korea caused outrage in Japan when it admitted in 2002 that it had kidnapped 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 80s to train agents in the country`s language and customs.
Five of those were allowed to return home but Pyongyang has insisted, without producing solid evidence, that the eight others died.
Abe arrived in Cuba Thursday after addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where he also hammered home Japan`s concern over North Korea`s nuclear tests, saying the world had to find "new means" to stop them.
He says he wants to "open a new page" in Japanese-Cuban relations, after the historic rapprochement between Havana and Tokyo`s close ally Washington.