2014年05月30日

North Korea agrees to launch a full-scale Japanese abductee probe

This news was a big surprise as both governments kept silent without showing us any positive results a day earlier.

Here is also Pyongyang's statement.

Substance of Agreement at DPRK-Japan Inter-Governmental Talks


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North Korea agrees to launch a full-scale Japanese abductee probe

In exchange for investigation Japan pledges to lift its sanctions against Pyongyang

May 29th, 2014

Kosuke Takahashi

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday announced that North Korea has agreed to launch a re-investigation into Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents in late 1970s and early ’80s.

“During (the) Japan-North Korea official talks in Sweden, North Korea promised Japan to conduct a comprehensive and full-scale investigation into abductees and other missing persons cases,” Abe said at a nationally televised press conference on Thursday.

“For the Abe administration, the overall resolution of the abduction issue is a top agenda,” Abe also said. “I hope this will be the first step leading to a complete settlement of this matter,” he added.

This sudden announcement came just one day after the two nations wrapped up their third round of intergovernmental talks in Stockholm, Sweden.

“Prime Minister Abe said he wants to solve this issue during his administration all at once,” Shigeru Yokota, the father of Megumi Yokota who was kidnapped in 1977, told NK News. “I hope this (announcement) is going in the right direction.”

North Korea’s official news agency KCNA on Thursday said the nation “will comprehensively investigate the matter of all Japanese nationals, including abduction victims and missing people.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a separate press conference that North Korea will launch a special investigative committee into the abductees within three weeks and that this committee is expected to keep Japan informed on the investigation process.

Suga also said that the Japanese government will ease travel and financial sanctions on North Korea, while also lifting the embargo against North Korean ships coming in and out to Japanese ports for humanitarian objectives, depending on how the reinvestigation progresses.

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This is not the first time Pyongyang has pledged to complete a re-investigation into the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea. The two nations agreed to conduct a re-investigation in August 2008. Negotiations stalled however after the resignation of then Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.

There is widespread belief among Japanese experts such as Isao Iijima, a special advisor to Abe, that Pyongyang already knows the whereabouts of the missing Japanese nationals, as North Korea tightly restricts the movement of citizens. Those experts believe Pyongyang is using this abduction issue as a diplomatic card against Tokyo.
posted by Kosuke at 21:09| Comment(0) | NK News

2014年05月29日

Japan, North Korea wrap up third round of talks without breakthrough

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Japan, North Korea wrap up third round of talks without breakthrough

Sale of pro-North Japanese group's building looms as obstacle in abductees investigation

May 28th, 2014

Kosuke Takahashi

Japan and North Korea on Wednesday wrapped up the third round of official talks in Stockholm, Sweden, without yielding any significant breakthroughs.

Government officials from the two nations failed to agree on the start of a re-investigation into Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents in late 1970s and early ’80s. But they agreed to continue government dialogue.

“We agreed to continue negotiations, but no specific schedule for negotiations was set,” said Junichi Ihara, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, who led Japan’s delegation.

The three-day talks followed the second round, held in late March in Beijing. North Korea’s delegation has been led by Song Il Ho, Pyongyang’s envoy for normalizing relations with Japan.

During the talks, Japanese officials urged that Pyongyang reinvestigate the fate of the Japanese abductees in North Korea. They also called for an investigation into additional missing Japanese citizens who may have been kidnapped by North Korea.

The Japanese government has confirmed that North Korea kidnapped at least 17 Japanese nationals in the 1970s and ’80s.

In September 2002, when then-prime minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Pyongyang, then-North Korean leader Kim Jong Il admitted for the first time that Japanese citizens had been abducted, and five abductees returned to Japan in October of that year.

But the Japanese government says North Korea has not offered adequate explanations for the fate of the rest of the Japanese abductees, including Megumi Yokota, kidnapped by North Korean agents at the age of 13 in 1977. North Korea insists that the abduction issue has already been resolved.

The exact number of the Japanese abductees is still unknown; some experts claim hundreds, others claim dozens.

There is widespread belief among Japanese experts that Pyongyang knows the whereabouts of those missing Japanese nationals, even without conducting any re-investigation, as North Korea still tightly restricts the movement of citizens. Those experts believe Pyongyang is using this abduction issue as a diplomatic card against Tokyo.

During the third round of official talks, North Korea’s negotiators also reportedly expressed concerns over a plan to sell the Tokyo headquarters building of Chongryon, the main pro-North Korea organization in Japan. The Tokyo High Court recently dismissed an appeal filed by Chongryon against the sale of the building and land to Marunaka Holdings, a property investment company based in Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture in western Japan.

Chongryon headquarters has for decades served as North Korea’s de facto embassy in Japan, as the two nations have no bilateral diplomatic relations.

The Japanese side explained that the government has no authority to intervene in the legal procedures of the sale. The North Korean side has said it is necessary for Tokyo to resolve the issue of the sale of Chongryon’s headquarters building if it wants Pyongyang to reinvestigate the abductions of Japanese nationals.

North Korean media have not yet reported on the latest round of talks with Japan.


posted by Kosuke at 02:56| Comment(0) | NK News

2014年05月28日

Japan reiterates calls for military hotline with China

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Japan reiterates calls for military hotline with China

Kosuke Takahashi, Tokyo - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

26 May 2014

Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera on 27 May reiterated Tokyo's call to establish an emergency hotline between the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) and China's People's Liberation Army after two Chinese fighters came within a few dozen metres of two JSDF aircraft: an incident the Japanese minister noted as being "extremely dangerous".

"It's important to construct a maritime communication mechanism between Japan and China because that mechanism includes hotlines between the two nations' navies and between each other's air forces as well," said Onodera.

The near-miss incident took place in international airspace several hundred kilometres north of the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea on the morning of 24 May, according to Japanese officials.

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posted by Kosuke at 08:51| Comment(0) | Jane's Defence Weekly