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    A sort of homecoming

    So Prime Minister Koizumi went to Pyongyang, where Kim Jong-il has said he was welcome, most welcome. The meeting apparently ended in less than two hours–perhaps there was a spontaneous city-wide banquet in Kim’s honor that he had to rush off to–but there was plenty to talk about. There’s that little matter of nuclear disarmament, for one thing (the DPRK has been known to file missiles over our heads in Japan–just testing, you know).



    But the focal point was clearly the Japanese abductees. Five have returned to Japan; that leaves eight that the DPRK says are dead (I can’t remember all the cover stories, they’re so lame; one involved graves being washed away in a mudslide and therefore unrecoverable–things like that) and two that it claims never entered North Korea. So from the Japanese viewpoint, there are five abductees repatriated and ten missing, of whom the DPRK acknowledges eight. That’s a total of fifteen, which I’m pretty sure is lower than the number of cabinet ministers and party officials currently implicated in the non-payment-of-pension-premiums scandal, but I could be wrong.



    The Japanese are trying to get abductees’ family members (mostly children) in North Korea to Japan, which is why there’s such a fuss over US Army deserter Charles Jenkins, who defected to North Korea in the ’60’s and is married to abductee Hitomi Soga. The US has indicated that it may, in fact, expect him to be handed over for court martial if he accompanies his daughters to Japan to see their mother. All of this making nice with the DPRK makes me sick, but I guess diplomacy wouldn’t be a delicate business if it always involved dealing with good people.



    Added at 1 a.m.: Predictably, the families of abductees are stomping mad that Koizumi didn’t push more for information about those unaccounted for. One’s heart goes out to them–most of these people were snatched off Japanese soil in their teens or early twenties, remember. But I have a hard time imagining what good a hard-line stance would do in this kind of case. The DPRK is run by whim-driven nut cases, unfortunately. In the meantime, children from two families came from North Korea and were reunited with their repatriated parents near Haneda Airport. It’s been a year and seven months since they’ve seen each other. One of the parents, Kaoru Hasuike (beautiful name, that: Kaoru means “fragrance,” and Hasuike means “lotus pond”), said, “My daughter has become so lovely….and my son has grown tall.” The last sentence in this article reports, “With that, he broke into the smile of a proud father.” Good for them. Let’s hope the rest of the endings are as happy as they can be.

    One Response to “A sort of homecoming”

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