It’s worth considering whether Japan is wise to expend diplomatic effort on an issue that may not have much traction. Unlike Curtis, I don’t think the abductions issue is necessarily isolating Japan — there are plenty of other issues by which Japan can be isolated from its neighbors — but the real concern would be if the US and North Korea actually began trading concessions (unlikely but not impossible). In that case, Japan would be isolated, because it would be pushing a hard line just as the US softened.
Of course, a lot needs to happen for this scenario to unfold, but it’s interesting to consider whether Japan should back off on an issue that is, after all, wrapped up with the whole package of North Korea’s atrocious behavior.
But then, this is one of those foreign policy issues where the public has, in part, led rather than followed. While Prime Minister Abe has taken the lead on this issue since 2002, the public has demanded action, and moreover the issue carries sentimental weight, to which posters, lapel pins, and films attest.