Japanese government is suspected of making compromises in the demands to North Korea, reports Yomiuri.
Govt compromise on abductees? / Cabinet drops handover of N. Korean abductors from list of demands
The Yomiuri Shimbun
The new government led by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has removed the handover of North Korean agents who abducted Japanese citizens from the six-point government policy on the abduction issue, government sources said Tuesday.
Hiroshi Nakai, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, who is responsible for the abduction issue, said, "Our stance of demanding the handover of the abductors has not changed."
But a fear is spreading among family members of abductees who said that they did not understand the attitude of the Hatoyama administration toward the issue, because the action can be interpreted as a concession to North Korea in future negotiations.
At a meeting in October 2006, the then Liberal Democratic Party-led government's team on the abduction issue decided on a six-point action plan.
They also included implementation of sanctions such as ban on entry to Japanese ports of North Korean ship Man Gyong Bong-92 and collaboration over the issue with the United Nations and other concerned countries.
In June 2008, then Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura remarked that three demands contained in the six points were essential at the House of Representatives special committee on the abduction issue.
The three demands were the handover of persons who actually conducted the abductions; securing the safety of abductees and their return to Japan; and unveiling the truth about the abduction incidents.
The previous administration regarded the three demands as the bottom line for Japan, points on which there can be no compromise in negotiations with North Korea.
However, handover of the abductors was excluded from among the key points in a Cabinet decision document drawn up on Oct. 13, when the Hatoyama administration decided to set up a new team to deal with abduction issues.
At a session of the lower house special committee on abduction issues held Nov. 26, Keiji Furuya, an LDP lawmaker, pointed out that the handover demand had been dropped.
In reply, Nakai said: "It doesn't mean [the government] has retreated. First of all, we'll work hard to achieve the two main points [return of the abductees and revealing the truth]."
Furuya continued to criticize the move, saying, "You can't avoid criticism that you are acting weakly," but Nakai only repeated that the administration would do its best.
Concerning the Hatoyama administration's policy toward North Korea, DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa reportedly told the South Korean Democratic Party leader during his visit to Japan last month, "We have to decide how to improve relations between Japan and North Korea without being handcuffed by how to resolve the abduction problem."
Even in the government and among Diet members, some expressed concern that the administration may put higher priority on normalization of diplomatic ties with North Korea.
Teruaki Masumoto, secretary general of the Japanese Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea, said: "Even two months after the power shift, there have been no signs of a start in negotiations with North Korea. In the first place, it seems that the government's policy over the abduction issue has not been firm, and so we feel anxious."
(Dec. 16, 2009)
From Asahi Shimbun article
Abudction Minister against North Korean women’s soccer team entering Japan
Minister Nakai said he was against the North Korean women’s team to enter Japan to compete in the East Asian Women’s Soccer Tournament planned to be held next February in Japan.
Participation of the North Korean team was announced last September, but Minister Nakai was informed several days ago. The reason for banning the team from entering the country was because Japan is imposing sanctions against North Korea, explained the minister. He requested further discussion on this matter.
Members from the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea (AFVKN: “The Families’ Association”), and the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea (NARKN: “Rescue Abductees”) met with Japanese foreign minister, Mr. Katsuya Okada on December 9th at the foreign ministry.
(Details of the attendee are listed at the end of the text.)
Two months have passed since I took office. I wanted to meet with you earlier, but we had to wait until today. I received a letter and a book from Yokota-san. More than thirty years have passed since the abduction. Abduction is a national priority and the prime minister shares the same strong will to resolve it. I am working with Minister Nakai to bring the victims back to Japan as early as possible. Let’s have a candid discussion today.
Summary of comments from our members:
- The will to resolve the abduction issue seems to have not changed with the new Democratic government, and we have high hopes. Please promote China and U.S. to send North Korea the message that the North must resolve this issue.
- We must rely on the Japanese government to resolve the issue, but there is strong public support that should be a force for the government’s efforts. We saw strong turnout at our recent meeting that proves strong public support. The change in government could trigger a change to bring the victims back.
- We are here with mixed feelings meeting you in this room (at the foreign ministry). We have met with many foreign ministers in the past in a similar situation. Kim Jong-Il seems to have health conditions and there is a sense of crisis in North Korea. The regime will do anything. They may even kill our family members and bring us there bones as their remains. We urge you to inform the North that Japan can identify when the remains of the individual died.
- We urge you to set a deadline on the ongoing sanction and set a date for progress on this issue. Unless that is met, please show them that Japan will impose additional sanctions
- Shukan Asahi (21.11.27) reported about Hatoyama cabinet office planning a sudden visit in December. Can you tell us anything about that?
I am aware of the article. It has no grounds. It’s a product of imagination.
- North Korea has only provided false information regarding the death of our families. We urge that the government finds effective communication channels with Kim Jon-Il to demand the release of victims by naming them and have the Japanese government lead the negotiation. North Korea claimed they will re-start the investigation, however, there were no actions taken. They do not need an investigation. They already know everything about the victims. Japanese government should not be fooled by North Korea.
- We urge that you have a clear strategy once North Korea responds to calls for negotiation. We would like another meeting with Kim Hyon-Hee in Japan or in South Korea. We ask that Japanese government takes measures to protect the surviving victims in North Korea.
I met with Secretary Clinton in New York. She touched upon the abduction issue and realized that this was a result of your long efforts. I understood that the abduction issue will continue to be a priority under the new Obama administration. Fundamental policy seems to have been kept in the Obama administration. Normalization should be considered as we resolve the issues of abduction, nuclear and missile.
Minster Nakai nominated himself as the minister in charge of abduction. I intend to work closely with him and please understand that the entire foreign ministry is working together to resolve this issue. North Korea’s claims to re-start the investigation last August was a significant event. North Korea is wanting to negotiate with the new Hatoyama government.
Kim Jon-Il seems to have health conditions and time is not on their side either. That is why we should not be rushing. We will confront North Korea with a resolute attitude. Japan is in tandem with U.S. and South Korea in North Korean policy and this should be a threat to the North. I am expecting to hear more information from Mr. Bosworth when he visits Japan.
In regards to the Kim Hyon-Hee’s visit, I will consult with minister Nakai against other priorities.
- We maintain our strong support for tougher sanctions. Do you think the sanction is working to put pressure on them? How about the Chinese support to the North?
I regret that the government has not yet passed the bill to inspect ship cargo following the U.N. resolution. I hope that the bill gets passed during the next diet sessions. There were comments from the North that they intend to come back to the six-party talks when Prime Minister Wen visited the North. There were some promises for aids. I intend to comment if those aids are beyond what has been agreed in the framework. There are different opinions about further sanctions against the North. If they go back to the August agreement and begin investigation, we must lift part of the sanction. Otherwise, they will use that as an excuse to cancel the investigation. Minister Nakai believes that there opportunities in people exchange and allowing chartered transportation.
A journalist commented on TV that number two or three in the foreign ministry claimed that the victims were dead. That story needs to be confirmed.
I am not aware who in the ministry claimed that. I don’t think that is true. We are expecting movements from the North. Their willingness for Japan-North Korea negotiation should be getting stronger than it was in last August.
They have already failed to keep their words. We should instead be toughening sanctions and lift them when they come back to the negotiation table.
It is important to have them restart the investigation.
- Japan must carefully study the content of their investigation. They may claim that the victims are dead.
- We urge that the government negotiate with the North with the basic assumption that the victims are still alive
From our organizations: Shigeo Iizuka, Shigeru and Sakie Yokota, Akihiro and Kayoko Arimoto, Shichiro Hamamoto, Koichiro Iizuka, Tsutomu Nishioka, and Ryutaro Hirata.
From the government: Minister Katsuya Okada, Tetsuro Fukuyama, Chinami Nishimura, Akitaka Saiki, Hideki Yamaguchi.
Reports tell us that JP government officially determined that Kim Jon Il were aware of the kidnapping, although he denied his involvement in his meeting with former PM Koizumi.