Abe meets relatives of abductees; pledges action, not just words

TOKYO —

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday met with relatives of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s and pledged to do everything in his power to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

“I won’t consider my political career ended until I see all abductees returned to their families,” Abe told members of the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea, TV Asahi reported.

Abe was part of then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s delegation that visited Pyongyang in 2002 for a landmark meeting at which North Korea admitted for the first time that it had abducted Japanese citizens.

Five abductees were returned to Japan shortly after. After that, Pyongyang said the rest had either died or were never in North Korea. It said the issue had been resolved and it has maintained that stance ever since.

However, successive Japanese governments have said that at least eight abductees remain unaccounted for, including Megumi Yokota, who was taken at the age of 13 in 1977. Her parents were at Friday’s meeting.

At the outset of the meeting, Abe apologized to the group for stepping down as prime minister in 2007, TV Asahi reported. He promised that his government will do its best to deliver results, and not just empty words. Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Keiji Furuya, minister in charge of the abduction issue, also attended the meeting.

Shigeo Iizuka, head of the relatives’ association, said the group had become frustrated with the frequent changes of leadership over the past six years, with a new minister in charge of the abduction issue being appointed each time and having to start negotiations from scratch. Iizuka said the relatives are aging and that time is running out for them.

Japan Today

  • 2

    semperfi

    Here we go again ................ The poor families - ( as if they haven't suffer enough having a loved abducted ) ............yet, always having to "show" for this political theatre - - - ------ -It is unconsciounable how far thes politicians push KNOWING they haven't a prayer . . . .. .

  • 4

    gaijinfo

    This is one of those things politicians do ONLY because they'll look bad if they don't.

    The families know this, and are milking it for all it's worth.

    Ahh Japan, the land of celebrated Victimhood.

  • 0

    plasticmonkey

    I won’t consider my political career ended until I see all abductees returned to their families

    This is the kind of comment I truly detest from these arrogant politicians. As if their career is the ultimate measure of sincerity.

    I feel sorry for these relatives, but they're being played by one government after another that knows there's no solution, but continues to use the issue for political advantage.

  • 1

    paulinusa

    Saw the 2006 documentary about Megumi Yokota ("Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story") and while I almost shed tears for her elderly parents there has to be a point where the Japanese government comes to the conclusion that NK will never,ever cooporate.

  • 0

    edojin

    Why didn't Abe & the rest of the LDP power do something while they were at the helm for all those years the kidnapees were being held in North Korea? Abe was with Prime Minister Koizumi when North Korean leader Kim told them his country did indeed have Japanese citizens who had been kidnapped. Everybody knew this beforehand, but when Koizumi and the others heard Kim say what he said, they were shocked. That whole scene was just bizarre on Koizumi's part.

    Now here we go again. If Abe can free what's left of the 868 Japanese who are believed to have been kidnapped or have vanished in the North, great. But he has promised he will do his best ... so everyone should hold him for his word.

    If he succeeds, can you imagine what kind of a homecoming that would be. But still, I have a difficult time imagining such a scene. What I see right now is a politician making yet another promise that will in time be gone with the wind ...

  • 0

    The_True

    Here we go again!

  • 1

    Poke

    Such a minor issue (for everyone except for a very few directly affected) yet so much bluster from the LDP.

    And it seems so petty that the Japanese government actually has an official Minister for the Abduction Issue (拉致問題担当大臣)...whose whole job is to make a show of futilely attempting to rescue 8 dead Japanese.

    This from Wikipedia: "On October 24 2012, Osamu Fujimura was appointed as Minister, succeeding Keishu Tanaka. Prime Minister of Japan and his cabinet. He is the eighth Minister since the Democratic Party of Japan came to power in 2009." Eight ministers since 2009?! And now two months later it is Keiji Furuya. A sad statement about Japanese politics. Wikipedia can't even keep up.

  • 1

    smithinjapan

    “I won’t consider my political career ended until I see all abductees returned to their families,”

    What an arrogant statement, one that gives false hope (AGAIN!), and what that will never be fulfilled. I feel so sorry for the relatives of those supposedly kidnapped, but I ask them to take this with a proverbial grain of salt.

  • 1

    iceshoecream

    "I won't consider my political career ended until I see all abductees returned to their families,"

    Empty words from a politician. Let's see if he remembers those exact words 12 months later when he resigns PM.

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    iceshoecream: "Let's see if he remembers those exact words 12 months later when he resigns PM."

    Is that your official bet? I've bet 13 months. I haven't heard about others. In any case, you're correct that they are but empty words, I just hope the people didn't eat it up. People like the Yokotas have been fed the same empty promise dozens of times in the last few years alone. Koizumi is the only one to have made any progress, but then that was killed by the right-wingers here when he got home from his visit to NK (ACTUALLY bringing back abductees!); right-wingers like Abe, in fact. Keeping the issue unresolved is something hawks benefit from.

  • 0

    warnerbro

    Good, mate, do something then. I'd be very glad to see them all come home. But having said they are dead, what are the chances the North Korean regime will suddenly find them alive? If any are alive, they'll likely be killed before anything resembling an investigation gets too close.

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