News

    Japan, US Increase Pressure on North Korea Over Abductions

    Japan and the United States are trying to increase pressure on North Korea to provide full details about the fate of Japanese abducted by Pyongyang during the Cold War.

    The pressure here came Friday in the form of sanctions legislation submitted to parliament by Japan's governing Liberal Democratic Party.

    LDP acting secretary-general, Ichiro Aisawa, says the bill mandates sanctions on Pyongyang unless it resolves the issue of the fate of Japanese who were kidnapped by North Korean agents in the 1970's and '80's.

    Aisawa calls submission of the legislation very timely in applying international pressure on North Korea because relatives of the Japanese abductees are in Washington discussing the issue with U.S. government officials and lawmakers.

    Megumi Yokota, who was kidnapped by North Korea in 1977 when she was 13, has become the symbol of the Japanese abductees. Her mother, Sakie Yokota, testified Thursday before a committee of the U.S House of Representatives, saying she believes her daughter and other abductees are still alive in North Korea, but time is running out to save them.

    North Korea has admitted abducting Megumi Yokota, but contends she later died. Japan has rejected evidence submitted by Pyongyang that Megumi is dead, including remains that turned out to be those of someone else.

    Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary, Shinzo Abe, told reporters Friday that Japan will do whatever it can to bring back Megumi and any other abductees who may still be alive.

    Abe says he is convinced that testimony about the matter in the U.S. Congress will lead to the international community applying more pressure on North Korea.

    The abduction issue is an emotional one in Japan, and has been the key obstacle to the establishment of formal diplomatic relations with North Korea.

    Relatives of the abductees and some lawmakers have been pushing Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for many months to impose sanctions on North Korea, but until now, Mr. Koizumi has resisted.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Il acknowledged to Mr. Koizumi in 2002 that his country had abducted 13 Japanese, but he said that all but five had died. Those five were returned to Japan that same year.

    Activists here say the number of Japanese abducted by North Korea may actually be in the hundreds.

    Republican Congressman Ed Royce was among the U.S. lawmakers to meet the abductees' family members in Washington, and he voiced his support.

    "Most important are the voices of the family members of those who have been abducted, and we thank you for speaking out," he said. "We will work with you to try to resolve this horrible, horrible situation."

    Japanese media report that President Bush is expected to meet with some of the family members.


    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.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora