Meeting with Foreign Minister Okada

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.)

Mr. Okada:
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?

Minister Okada:
I am aware of the article. It has no grounds. It’s a product of imagination.

Our members:
- 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.

Minister Okada:
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.

Our members:
- 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?

Minister Okada:
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.

Our members:
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.

Minister Okada:
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.

Our members:
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.

Minister Okada
It is important to have them restart the investigation.

Our members:
- 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.

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