News / Asia

Japan Prime Minister Vows to Resolve Decades Old Abductions by North Korea

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda (File Photo)
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda (File Photo)

Japan's prime minister is expressing his intention to visit North Korea to help resolve the long-standing issue of Japanese citizens abducted over the decades by North Korean agents.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda spent one hour on Saturday with relatives of citizens abducted by North Korean agents over the decades.  He informed them that he considers the cases an urgent matter and will go to North Korea if that leads to progress.

Mr. Noda informed the families that he told President Barack Obama during a meeting last month in New York that he wants the help of other nations to resolve this issue, which the prime minister says he is making a priority of his administration.

Mr. Noda says he wants more than ever to try to resolve the issue of the kidnappings. And he wants to do his utmost to get those who may still be alive back with their families in Japan.

It is the second meeting the prime minister has had with the families since he took office early last month.

Shuichi Ichikawa was among those North Korea admitted kidnapping. But Pyongyang claims he died of a heart attack in a drowning incident and that his body cannot be returned because a flood subsequently washed away his grave. The Ishikawa family has never accepted that explanation.

Shuichi's brother, Kenichi, says he has heard previous Japanese leaders vow to get to the bottom of the matter with the North Koreans.

Ishikawa says he wants Prime Minister Noda to go beyond the promises of his predecessors who also said they would do their best. Mr. Noda, he
stresses, must actually accomplish something.

According to officials, Keiko Arimoto was abducted in 1983 at the age of 23 by a terrorist group, the Japanese Red Army,  with North Korean support.

North Korea has said she died five years later in a coal gas heater poisoning and her body was washed away in a 1995 landslide.

Arimoto's mother, Kayoko, after the meeting with Prime Minister Noda said she is still hoping and praying.

Arimoto says she wants to see the issue resolved while she and the other elderly parents and siblings are still alive.

A major breakthrough occurred in 2002 when then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi went to Pyongyang. North Korea admitted abducting 13 Japanese citizens and allowed five of them to return the following month.

Activists contend that North Korea, mainly in the 1970's and 80's, abducted dozens of Japanese. Some were forced to teach Japanese language and culture to spies. Rights groups say some of the older abductees were apparently killed so that their identities could be adopted by North Korean agents.

The unresolved issue of the kidnappings has prevented Tokyo and Pyongyang from normalizing relations.


Steve Herman

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

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs