Japanese officials to visit Pyongyang this month on abduction issue

Japanese officials to visit Pyongyang this month on abduction issue
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

JAPAN - The government has decided to send a delegation of officials to Pyongyang this month to receive a report on the reinvestigation into Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea.

Though many members of the association of the abductees' families oppose the visit, the government concluded it is necessary to dispatch a delegation to urge Pyongyang to continue the reinvestigation.

At September's talks between director general-level officials of the Japanese and North Korean foreign ministries, Pyongyang sounded out Tokyo about sending a delegation of government officials to North Korea.

The association strongly distrusts North Korea, which has repeatedly broken promises in the past in dealing with the abduction issue.

Association members fear that reinvestigation talks could proceed at a pace set by North Korea, should Japan send a delegation to Pyongyang at its request.

But while remaining wary about the latest development, some in government fear a possible deadlock in the ongoing investigation.

"If the Japanese government doesn't send officials to North Korea after persuading Pyongyang to spend a year on the investigation, the investigation may be halted," said a Japanese government official.

At Wednesday's press conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said: "The negotiations are now entering a crucial stage. If we shut the door to dialogue, we lose everything."

The government will hold a meeting Monday of the liaison council of the ruling and opposition parties to discuss the abduction issue and call upon each party to support the government's policy.

Subsequently, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Eriko Yamatani, minister in charge of the abduction issue, will discuss the matter to finalize the details of the visit.

Headed by Junichi Ihara, director general of the ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, the delegation will likely comprise officials from the ministry, the government's Headquarters for the Abduction Issue and the National Police Agency.

The government will demand a meeting with So Tae Ha, chairman of North Korea’s Special Investigation Committee, which was established to reinvestigate the abduction issue.


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