While the article notes that Christopher Hill nixed the idea, that such an arrangement has been mentioned in US-North Korea bilateral talks should worry Japan, because while the US said no on this occasion, there’s no guarantee that the US won’t soften its opposition in the future. Given the unlikelihood that North Korea will give up the nuclear weapons it already has, the US may ultimately have to choose between an agreement that accepts a nuclear North Korea or no agreement whatsoever.
So how far is the US willing to go to secure an agreement? Aside from the abductions issue, what gaps remain between the US and Japan negotiating positions? Seems like the kind of thing about which Japan and the US should be exchanging opinions and working towards a common position.