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Japan to Push Pyongyang for More Information on Abducted Citizens

Japan reacts with outrage and deep sorrow to a startling announcement from North Korea on the fate of a group of abducted Japanese citizens. The government says it will push Pyongyang for more information.

Across Japan, people are reacting with anger and disappointment to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's historic summit Tuesday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Mr. Kim ended years of denials by confirming that North Korean spies kidnapped 11 Japanese in the 1970's and 1980's, and that just four are known to be alive.

The North Korean leader apologized for the abductions, which he blamed on "elements in the military".

The admission is viewed as a turning point in bilateral relations. Negotiations on setting up diplomatic ties, stalled for two years, are now set to open next month.

But across Japan, the confirmation of the kidnappings and deaths of the victims eclipse the summit's achievements.

One man said he cannot describe his grief about the kidnappings.

A woman said she cannot forgive what has happened, especially since some of those kidnapped as children are dead.

North Korea has not offered details on how the victims died, but the state-run Korean Central News Agency says the four survivors can return to Japan.

Tokyo said Wednesday that it will urge North Korea to reveal more about the abductions before the countries resume normalization talks.

What is known is that the victims disappeared without a trace and were taken to North Korea to teach spies to speak Japanese and educate them in Japanese customs. Apparently, this helped North Korean agents enter rival South Korea disguised as Japanese nationals.

The families of the kidnapping victims had gathered together in Tokyo on Tuesday, the day of the Pyongyang summit. A news broadcast showed their response to the news - most sat silently in shocked disbelief.

Shigeru Yokota's daughter Megumi disappeared in 1977 when she was 13- years-old. He tells reporters that there has been no information on why his daughter was taken and how she lived and died. He says he would like to go North Korea to find some answers.

In response to an impassioned public, Prime Minister Koizumi's office is scrambling to follow up on the kidnappings, which one newspaper calls "acts of state terrorism". The government unveiled plans to set up a cabinet-level group to direct further investigations.

The Japanese leader will meet privately next Wednesday with the families of the abduction victims to offer reassurance and his condolences.