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Japan Warns N. Korea Against Military Provocation

FILE- Japan's Minister-in-Charge of the Abduction Issue and head of the national public safety commission Keiji Furuya arrives at a meeting with the family members of victims kidnapped by North Korea, in Tokyo May 30, 2014.
A high-level Japanese government official says a military provocation by North Korea, especially after the recent agreement between Toyko and Pyongyang on the issue of abducted Japanese citizens, would be "suicide."

The Japanese state minister in charge of the abduction issue, Keiji Furuya, warned Sunday in a telephone interview with the VOA Korean Service that North Korea is out of chances.

"If Pyongyang acts in bad faith, as before, the regime would lose its last opportunity," Furuya said.

Late last month, Pyongyang agreed to set up a committee to conduct an internal investigation into the fate of Japanese nationals abducted in the 1970s and 1980s. The committee will examine the fate of other Japanese in North Korea, including those who accompanied their Korean spouses to the country in the 1950s, and will search for the remains of Japanese who died there in the final days of World War II.

The North Korean government is expected to relay detailed information on the committee to its Japanese counterpart this week. According to Furuya, Tokyo has not yet learned about the committee’s makeup, organizational structure and responsibilities.

Throughout the interview with VOA, he stressed the importance of the reclusive state’s sincerity in following through with the agreed-upon agenda.

Furuya said Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would be willing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to resolve the abduction issue under certain conditions.

Furuya said the prerequisites for a summit meeting "are that the North maintain a sincere attitude and for its committee to deliver the tangibles in a timely manner."

The Japanese government’s North Korea policy is comprehensive, encompassing not only the abductee issue, but also that of nuclear weapons and missile tests. The latter two are also of critical importance to both the United States and South Korea.

"The cooperation between Japan, the United States and South Korea is extremely important to Tokyo," Furuya said. The Japanese government briefed Washington and Seoul before and after its talks with Pyongyang last month.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.
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    Jee Abbey Lee

    Jee Abbey Lee is a veteran broadcast journalist with more than 10 years of experience in TV, radio, and the web. She serves as Voice of America's social media correspondent and is an expert of millennial lifestyle. 

    Lee received her graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Prior to joining VOA, she worked at the Seoul bureau of CNN Travel and served as the chief Bank of Korea correspondent for Arirang TV. 

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