News

Mystery Still Surrounds Remains Given to Japan by N. Korea

Japan is lodging a protest with North Korea after forensic tests confirmed that what Pyongyang said were the remains of a Japanese woman abducted by North Korean agents are actually those of someone else.

Japanese government officials call this a major obstacle to pursuing talks on bilateral relations.

The government on Wednesday announced that DNA analysis of cremated remains handed over by North Korea are actually those of two different people, neither of whom is Megumi Yokota.

Ms. Yokota was kidnapped near her home by North Korean agents in 1977 at the age of 13. She was one of at least 13 Japanese abducted by North Korea during the Cold War, and Pyongyang says she killed herself in a hospital in 1994.

Pyongyang handed over the remains as a way of promoting talks on improving North Korean-Japanese relations. Instead, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said Wednesday that Japan is immediately filing a protest over the incident.

Mr. Hosoda says this is extremely regrettable and a setback in establishing formal relations with the North. He also says Japan might stop food aid shipments to the impoverished communist state.

Megumi Yokota's family has been leading a campaign to pressure Pyongyang for information on the abductees. They reacted to Wednesday's news with a mixture of relief and anger.

Sakie Yokota, Megumi's mother, says she expected the forensic testing to confirm the ashes were not those of her daughter and, for that, she is relieved.

The Yokota family says it believes that Megumi is still alive, and the fact that North Korea could not hand over her remains supports that belief.

Mrs. Yokota says the deception shows the cruelty and brutality of the North Korean regime.

She and her husband, Shigeru, strongly urged the Japanese government to impose immediate economic sanctions on Pyongyang.

Shinzo Abe, acting Secretary General of Japan's governing Liberal Democratic Party, also lashed out at North Korea after the findings were made public.

Mr. Abe says North Korea's handing over of the bogus remains is a cold-blooded and insincere act.

Mr. Abe, who favors imposing sanctions, says there is no way Japan will establish diplomatic relations with North Korea until the abduction issue is settled.

Five abductees returned to Japan in 2002 after Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il in Pyongyang.

North Korea insists that eight other Japanese who were also kidnapped, including Ms. Yokota, have since died. The fate of another two that Japan says were also abducted is not known, and Pyongyang insists it has no knowledge of the pair.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs