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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:54 03/09/2007
News Review #304: July 27, 2005

Japanese Abductees Haunt N.Korea Nuclear Talks

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

Japanese Abductees Haunt N.Korea Nuclear Talks
TOKYO (Reuters)

Related Articles:
Japan Unwelcome in 6-Way Talks
Korea Times (ROK)

Russia urges Japan not to place abduction issue on agenda of North Korean nuclear talks
Novosti (Russia)


As had been expected by many, Japan's raising the issue of abductees at the 6-way talks was received with general resentment by China, Russia, and ROK (South Korea) not to mention DPRK (North Korea), while the most favorable response came from Japan's closest ally, the U.S., pretending to be indifferent on the issue.

Japanese people are fully sympathetic toward the abductees and their families, whose lives were jeopardized by the crimes committed by the DPRK government, as admitted by its leader Kim Jon-il himself. After returning five of the abductees thee years ago, and their children - along with the American spouse of an abductee - more than a year ago, the DPRK declared that the case is closed, and has not replied to Japan's request, or appeals, of further discussion on the matter.

Japan's government, as it has no other means than to keep "asking" the DPRK to come to sit at the table of discussion, was looking very forward to this occasion of 6-way talks. Even if the issue would not become a part of the formal agenda, the government wished, at least it would lead a way to starting bilateral talks with the DPRK, who might not simply ignore Japan's wish to talk if other countries, the U.S., China, Russia, and ROK were to have sympathy, even unofficially, for Japan and the abductees.

From a tactical point of view, Japan's straightforwardly announcing its intention to table the abductee, and the missile - that could attack Japan any time - issue, was perhaps too naive. Other countries - and more so for their delegates afraid of being accused to be incapable - did not want to hear anything that might spoil the meeting itself, which finally was reconvened and still very fragile.

Japan's government, however, really had no choice. The government had to show the Japanese people that it was doing its best in the way of saving the abductees. The government, lead by Prime Minister Koizumi, has kept saying that persistency in asking the DPRK with the support, albeit unofficial, of the leading countries is the best and the most realistic method in saving the abductees. Mr Koizumi has been resisting the people's demand - spearheaded by the popular politician Shinzo Abe - to place more strain on the DPRK including posing economic sanctions. As such, Mr Koizumi and his government wanted very badly to someway show that the patience would pay off.

The 6-way talks has been a vivid illustration of the workings of international politics. This, in the eyes of the abductees and their families, was (another) shattering of hope that the abductees be saved from the rogue regime through a concerted effort of the international community. For ordinary Japanese, it has been a good lesson that being peaceful and patient may avoid conflicts, but may not protect their rights. It will be interesting to see if more signs of Japan becoming a "normal" country appear.

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