Meeting with the Family Association and Rescue Abductees

Hatoyama: Fresh approach on Abduction Issue
Meeting with the Family Association and Rescue Abductees

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Hiroshi Nakai, National Public Safety Commission Chairman and Minister of State for the abduction issue met with members from the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea (AFVKN: “The Families’ Association”), the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea (NARKN: “Rescue Abductees”), and Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea (COMJAN) on Tuesday, September 29th.

(The list of attendees of the meetings will be at the bottom of this article)

PM Hatoyama: Different approach than the previous government – meeting with kin of abductees.

The meeting on Tueday began at the Cabinet Office where Mr. Hiroshi Nakai explained Mr. Hatoyama’s mentioning of the abduction issue in various occasions during his trip in New York. “Mr. Hatoyama spoke about the abduction issue in his address at the U.N. as well as in his meetings with President Obama, President Hu, President Medvedev, President Lee, and Prime Minister Rudd.” Mr. Nakai said that Mr. Hatoyama’s efforts in New York made it easier for him to begin his work. In regards to the organization of the Headquarters for the Abduction Issue, Mr. Nakai said “it is still yet to be determined.” Support for the relatives of the abductees will remain as it is, but Mr. Nakai is seeking the best way to “collect information.” The way information has been gathered “cannot remain the same and continue to waste more years.” He plans to change the organization to gather information.

Prime Minister Hatoyama met with abductees’ families and members of the supporting organization at the Prime Minister’s Office. To start off the meeting, Mr. Hatoyama said, "Needless to say, an issue of this kind can only be resolved through the government's proactive efforts.” “The issue cannot be resolved when Japan is depending on other nations. This new administration wants to demonstrate that it is going to tackle this issue proactively.” Mr. Hatoyama expressed his strong determination in his statement.

In response to the positive comments and encouragements from the family members, Mr. Hatoyama said that he means what he said. “We must demonstrate that this is a new administration. I have been explaining my policy of “fraternity” and by this, I mean that I want to lead a government that values human lives. I cannot let this issue continue as it is when I believe that human lives must be valued.”

In the meeting, Mr. Teruaki Masumoto, General Secretary of the Families’ Association, expressed his concern regarding the possible lifting of sanctions against North Korea. Mr. Masumoto spoke about the agreement made last June between MOFA and North Korea that Japan would lift sanctions on North Korean ships if North Korea began reinvestigation of abductees. The sanctions on North Korean ships entering Japanese ports was a result of the long-fought battle by the abductees’ families and supporting organizations and Mr. Masumoto explained that all the family members feel that it should not be lifted easily. “Until all the victims return to Japan, the sanction on Mangyongbong should not be lifted.” In response to Mr. Masumoto’s comments, Mr. Hatoyama said that lifting sanctions would only bring the same outcomes from the North Korean regime as we have seen for years. He said that the new administration must deal with North Korea with new ways and that Japan should not easily compromise to North Korea.

Mr. Nakai said that before coming to power, he has been criticizing the government of being soft on North Korea. “I now have that responsibility of criticizing the former administration.” Following Mr. Hatoyama’s strong will to resolve this issue, Mr. Nakai also expressed his determination as the minister responsible for the abduction issue. He also said he would like to visit South Korea before the Diet session convenes and has been contacting President Lee’s brother. “I will be making every effort to resolve this issue.

Below is the list of people who attended the meeting.
Families’ Association:
Shigeo Iizuka, Akihiro and Kayoko Arimoto, Shichiro Hamamoto, Teruaki Masumoto, Sakie Yokota, Kenichi and Tatsuko Ichikawa, Fumiyo Saito, Takeshi Matumoto, Akio Terakoshi, Mitsuo Uchida, Masaru Honma, Koichiro Iizuka, Fumiko Hirano, Toshiko Masumoto
Rescue Abductees:
Yoichi Shimada, Mr. Yamagishi
Hiroshi Kawahito

At the Prime Minister’s office, our members met with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, together with Mr. Hirofumi Hirano, Chief Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Hiroshi Nakai, Minister of State for the Abduction Issue, Mr. Matsuno, Mr. Matsui and Mr. Takino, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretaries, Mr. Tetsuro Fukuyama, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Kouhei Ohtsuka, Senior Vice Minister for Promotion of Local Sovereignty, and Mr. Kenji Tamura, Parliamentary Secretary of Cabinet Office. All of them attended the meeting with the “blue ribbon” pin. Mr. Koriki Jojima, chairman of the Lower House special committee on the abduction issue, and Mr. Yukihisa Fujita, chairman of the Upper House special committee on the abduction issue joined the meeting at the Cabinet Office.

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