2014年07月11日

Japanese government denies Nikkei report on North Korea’s abduction survivor list

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Japanese government denies Nikkei report on North Korea’s abduction survivor list

Expert says certain groups spreading 'disinformation' to hinder progress in Tokyo-Pyongyang talks

July 10th, 2014

Kosuke Takahashi

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Thursday denied the Nikkei newspaper’s report that Pyongyang provided to Tokyo a list of about 30 abductees and other Japanese survivors in North Korea at a July 1 meeting in Beijing.

The Japanese government on Thursday lodged a protest with the Nikkei newspaper and requested that it issue a correction.

“I’m aware of the report, but there were no facts like that at all during the meeting or during a recess,” Suga said of the article, which ran on the front page of Japan’s largest business daily on Thursday. “It’s clearly a false report.”

The list, containing triple the number of names as reported by the paper a week ago, includes confirmed victims of North Korean kidnappings taking place between 1977 and 1983. The Nikkei reported that Japan had matched two-thirds of the names with its own records as of Wednesday.

Hideshi Takesada, a Japanese expert on Korean affairs and professor at Takushoku University’s graduate school, said on July 8 at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo that some groups and some governments are intentionally dispensing misinformation on the abduction issue in order to hinder Japan-North Korea negotiations.

Takesada specifically pointed out two rumors. One is that Pyongyang and Tokyo have agreed to Kim Eun Gyong’s visit to meet her grandparents in Japan later this year. Kim is the daughter of Megumi Yokota, who was kidnapped by the North in 1977 at the age of 13. The other rumor is the Nikkei’s previous report on a list containing a double-digit number of abductees allegedly presented by North Korea to Japan.

“They are using these disinformation tactics,” said Takesada, a former executive director of the National Institute for Defense Studies in Tokyo, the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s think-tank.

Tokyo claims North Korean agents kidnapped 17 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s: five have returned but 12 are unaccounted for. Pyongyang has admitted that its agents kidnapped 13 Japanese nationals, including Megumi Yokota. Pyongyang has claimed that eight are dead and that the other four never entered the country.

The abducted Japanese are mostly believed to have been forced to teach Japanese language and culture for agents undertaking covert operations.

There are about 470 missing Japanese who may have been abducted by North Korea agents, according to the Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea, a Tokyo-based civic group.

The National Police Agency is currently investigating 860 cases of suspected abductions.

Picture: Wikimedia Commons
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