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    後回し

    Japan isn’t entirely happy with the results of the 6-party talks, however. The abductee problem was basically tabled:

    On 19 September, the families of Japanese abducted by the DPRK held a Tokyo press conference in reaction to the joint statement adopted at the 6-party talks, voicing dissatisfaction: “The abduction issue was back-burnered.” “This is nothing more than a statement predicated on the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, which is already drained of content.”

    The only part of the joint declaration to touch on the abduction issue was this: “After dealing appropriately, in accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, with various pending issues, we will implement a normalization of relations.” The vice-representative of the group of families, Shigeo Iizuka (67), made plain his dissatisfaction: “The word abduction doesn’t appear in the declaration, and the abduction issue was back-burnered.” He indicated further concerns: “If the debate over nuclear issues goes on and on, and and there is no progress seen, the resolution of the abduction issue could become a great deal more difficult.”

    If you’re not familiar with the issue: the DPRK sent agents to the Japanese coast in the 1970s to abduct about a dozen Japanese nationals in their late teens and early 20s. They were brought back to North Korea and forced to teach Japanese language and culture to DPRK spies. Of course, those who are alive are all middle-aged now. The most famous, because her husband happened to be US Army deserter Charles Jenkins, is Hitomi Soga. Their ending was happy: they’ve come back to Japan and been able to bring their college-age daughters. Other endings have not been happy. Megumi Yokota’s family has probably been treated the worst, with the DPRK dismissively shoving random piles of bones at the Japanese as her remains. Other stories are in between. Kaoru Hasuike, for instance, was snatched while on vacation in Hokkaido as a college junior. Having been repatriated at 46, he received permission from his university to complete his degree but was having difficulty deciding on how to proceed–and do you wonder? There are, I think, five of the fifteen abductees accounted for.

    For reference, the Ministry of Foreign affairs has the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, from almost exactly two years ago, posted in Japanese and English. The section pertinent to the abduction issue is rendered this way in English:

    With respect to the outstanding issues of concern related to the lives and security of Japanese nationals, the DPRK side confirmed that it would take appropriate measures so that these regrettable [遺憾な!–SRK] incidents, that took place under the abnormal bilateral relationship, would never happen in the future.

    Well, the DPRK doesn’t seem to have abducted anyone lately, but it certainly is maintaining an “abnormal” sense of cooperation. At the same time, it’s not hard to understand why the nuclear issue superseded the abductee issue at the 6-party talks. However much the Japanese citizenry feels for the families of the abductees, the fact is that the nuclear problem could directly affect millions of people. The abductee problem, while an outrage, does not. Bilateral negotiations between Japan and the DPRK don’t seem to fare much better much of the time, unfortunately, so Iizuka’s fears may not be unfounded.

    One Response to “後回し”

    1. Simon World says:

      China’s role in North Korea talks

      After years of failed talks, finally agreement is reached with North Korea over its nukes. The onus remains on the North Koreans to live up to their end of the bargain, but that’s by the by. Far more interesting is what happened to force the issue? Why now? The North Koreans are lavishing praise on their Chinese hosts. China’s leadership remains petrified of a collapse of North Korea and the massive influx of refugees likely should that happen. Nor did it fancy the alternative of a potential American led invasion, leading to American troops literally on the border. China has always held the whip hand in the talks. For example China supplies most of North Korea’s electricity at friendly rates. Having North Korea annoy the Americans served as a useful foil for China and it kept Japanese and South Korean minds focussed on the threat from the North Koreans…

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