"Now the spotlight is on" the abductee issue, Trump said at a press conference in Tokyo. "And perhaps we could have good luck, and perhaps the regime would send them back. That would be a tremendous signal if Kim Jong Un would send them back."
Trump's comments on the abductee issue signaled a possible step Kim Jong Un could take toward negotiations.
"If [Kim Jong Un] could send them back, that would be the start of something I think would be something very special if they would do that," Trump said.
Speaking after the meeting surrounded by the families, Trump pledged that he would commit to helping broker their loved ones' return.
"We've just heard the very sad stories about family members -- daughters, wives, brothers, uncles, fathers -- it’s a very, very sad number of stories that we’ve heard," the president said after the meeting.
"We will work with Prime Minister Abe in getting them back. They were used to learn the language, they were used for -- many different reasons," he said of the victims.
Trump has been hailed in Japan for highlighting the plight of abductees by North Korea in his address to the U.N. General Assembly in September.
“We know it kidnapped a sweet 13-year-old Japanese girl from a beach in her own country to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea’s spies,” Trump said at the time.
Japan has asked for help from the United States in pressing for the return of the abductees, Shimada said, and family members of the victims have traveled to Washington to share their stories.
After a recent meeting at the White House, aides later told the president of the families’ experiences. He “was very interested and moved,” one senior administration official said.
The meeting in Tokyo was requested by President Trump, administration officials said.
"I renew my determination to do my utmost to realize a day when those family members can hold their daughters and family members in their arms again," Abe said. "And I will work closely with President Trump to resolve this abductions issue."