News

Relatives of Japanese Abductees Begin Sit-In

Multimedia

Audio

With a portrait of their daughter Megumi Yokota, left, abducted by North Korea in 1978, Shigeru Yokota and his wife Sakie stage a sit-in protest outside Parliamentary buildings in Tokyo Friday
Relatives of Japanese abducted by North Korean agents are holding a three-day sit-in near the prime minister's office in the Japanese capital. The relatives say their patience has run out as they wait for action from both the Japanese and North Korean governments.

Holding placards in one hand and handkerchiefs in the other to wipe their brows as temperatures soared above 30 degrees Celsius, relatives of abductees on Friday began a vigil outside the official residence of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Many of the more than 100 relatives and their supporters say they do not believe Pyongyang's assertion that eight of the 13 Japanese North Korea has admitted abducting during the 1970s and '80s are dead. The five others were allowed to return to Japan in 2002.

North Korea snatched the Japanese from coastal communities and used them to teach spies about Japan's language and culture.

Fumiko Hirano's sister is one of the abductees North Korea says is dead.

Ms. Hirano pleads for Prime Minister Koizumi to listen to the voices of those still missing.

Sakie Yokota's daughter was abducted in 1977 when she was 13. Pyongyang claims she committed suicide 12 years ago.

Mrs. Yokota says Prime Minister Koizumi should direct his anger toward North Korea and immediately impose economic sanctions on Pyongyang.

Five million Japanese have signed a petition calling for sanctions.

Prime Minister Koizumi, however, has preferred dialogue to sanctions. The Stalinist North has said it would consider sanctions tantamount to a declaration of war.

Mr. Koizumi on Friday again rebuffed calls for sanctions but said he understands the pain of the families.

The prime minister says before such drastic action as sanctions is taken there is a need to evaluate how effective they would be.

Japan is one of North Korea's few legitimate trade links with the outside world, but some analysts say sanctions would not really hurt Pyongyang because it could ship goods through China.

Mr. Koizumi has made two trips to Pyongyang to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. The first visit, in 2002, secured the release of the five abductees.

Japan is one of the nations participating in the stalled six-party talks about North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.

In talks this week in the South Korean capital, Seoul failed to convince Pyongyang to return to the international discussions on dismantling in nuclear arms program.


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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs