What's the Abduction Issue?

More on the Abduction Issue

May 2011 / Headquarters for the Abduction Issue

After denying all allegations for many years, North Korea admitted for the first time on September 17, 2002 at the Japan-North Korea Summit Meeting in Pyongyang that they had in fact abducted Japanese citizens. At the meeting, North Korea apologized and promised to not conduct any more abductions in the future. At present, the GoJ has identified 17 citizens as having been abducted by North Korea (see Individual Cases for more details). Of these 17, five were permitted to return to Japan on October 15, 2002, some 24 years after they were abducted from Japan. (Their families arrived in Japan in May and July 2004.) For many years, the North Korean authorities failed to provide credible accounts of the whereabouts of the remaining abductees, whose status is still unknown despite a promise made by North Korea at the Second Japan-North Korea Summit Meeting held on May 22, 2004 to immediately reopen a thorough investigation to uncover the facts of these cases.

During Japan-North Korea Working-Level Consultations in June 2008, North Korea pledged it would carry out reinvestigation into the abduction of Japanese citizens. At consultations in August of the same year, the two parties reached agreement on the purpose the investigation would serve and its specific terms. In this investigation, North Korea was to take concrete action that would lead to a resolution of the abduction issue. In other words, a thorough investigation would be conducted to uncover the whereabouts of the survivors and bring about their safe return to Japan. (However, up until now the North Korean side has yet to implement this agreement. Please refer to section 2 (1) (H).)

The abduction of Japanese citizens is a matter of grave concern that affects the national sovereignty of Japan and the lives and safety of the Japanese people. Until this issue is resolved, there can be no normalization of relations with North Korea. Given that North Korea has presented no credible explanation or evidence to suggest otherwise, the GoJ believes that all the abductees who have not yet been accounted for are still alive and has consistently demanded that all of the remaining abductees be safely returned to Japan, that a full and accurate accounting be provided for each case, and that the perpetrators of the abductions be handed over to Japanese authorities. In future too, based on the abovementioned agreement, the GoJ will continue to negotiate with North Korea, urging that a comprehensive reinvestigation be launched immediately, in order that progress can be made to bring back the survivors. Moreover, recognizing the possibility that there are abductees other than the 17 people who have been identified, the GoJ is conducting the necessary investigations and inquiries. If there are additional cases identified as involving acts of abduction, the GoJ will raise them with the North Korean government.

North Korea, however, has repeatedly asserted that Japan is using the abduction issue to avoid resolving other past disputes between the two countries. As the GoJ has made clear many times in the past, Japan is committed to working in good faith to settle past issues, as agreed in the Pyongyang Declaration, and cannot accept the assertions by North Korea. Japan therefore continues to demand that North Korea take concrete action as quickly as possible to bring the abduction issue to a resolution.

  1. 1. Background
  2. 2. Japan-North Korea Talks on Abductions
  3. 3. Efforts by the International Community
  4. 4. Steps Taken in Japan

1. Background

During the 1970s and 1980s, there were a string of incidents in which Japanese citizens disappeared in unnatural circumstances. Investigations by the Japanese authorities and testimony from exiled North Korean agents revealed that many of these incidents were highly likely to be abductions by North Korea. Since 1991, the GoJ has taken every opportunity to raise the abduction issue with North Korea, which had persistently denied their involvement. However, at the September 2002 Japan-North Korea Summit Meeting, North Korea admitted for the first time that it had abducted Japanese citizens.

There are a number of possible motives for this unprecedented act of state-sponsored crime by North Korea: to conceal the identities of North Korean agents; to use abductees to train North Korean agents to blend into Japanese society; and to recruit for the Yodo-go Group (Note 1), which North Korea still harbors to this day (Note 2). In addition to the 17 Japanese citizens already identified as abductees, there could be other people who have been abducted by North Korea, and the GoJ is conducting the necessary investigations and inquiries. These measures have so far revealed additional suspected cases of abductions in Japan of non-Japanese citizens (North Korean nationals living in Japan) and of individuals in other countries. [See 3.1 (C) and 4.1 (A) below for more details.]

In Japan, concerned citizens are actively engaged in a campaign to push for the safe return of the abductees; for example, the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea (known as the Association of Families) was formed in 1997. Petitions including more than 7,650,000 signatures have been presented to the Prime Minister of Japan.

Note 1: The Yodo-go Group refers to a group of hijackers who took control of Japan Airlines Flight 351 (known as Yodo-go) and illegally flew it to North Korea on March 31, 1970, as well as to their families.

Note 2: At the first Japan-North Korea Summit Meeting held in September 2002, Chairman Kim Jong-Il explained the reasons for the abductions as follows. "Firstly, in order that North Korean agents could learn the Japanese language; and secondly, so that North Korean agents could travel to the Republic of Korea using other people's identities."

2. Japan-North Korea Talks on Abductions

(1) Intergovernmental Conferences, etc.

(A) First Japan-North Korea Summit Meeting (September 2002)

  1. (a) After persistently denying all allegations for many years, the North Korean leader, Chairman Kim Jong-Il, admitted for the first time on September 17, 2002 at a Japan-North Korea Summit Meeting that North Korea had in fact abducted Japanese citizens, and apologized for these incidents. At that time, the GoJ was demanding investigations into the cases of 13 individuals identified as abductees. Of these, North Korea claimed that four were alive, that eight had died, and that there was no evidence that the remaining individual had ever entered North Korea. The North Korean delegation also admitted to the abduction of another person the Japanese government had not inquired about, and confirmed that this person was still alive. (As for this abductee's mother, however, who went missing at the same time, North Korea claimed that further investigation found no evidence that she ever entered its territory.) At this same meeting, North Korea pledged to punish those involved in the abductions and that these crimes would not be repeated. It also made commitments to allow the abductees to meet with their families and to return to Japan.
    Then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi lodged a strong protest to Chairman Kim Jong-Il, urging further investigations, return of the surviving abductees, and an end to such abductions.
  2. (b) In a public statement released on the day of the meeting, a spokesperson for the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that North Korea was ready to take the steps necessary for the abductees to return to Japan.

(B) Dispatch of Investigation Team (September - October, 2002)

  1. (a) The GoJ dispatched an Investigation Team to North Korea from September 28 to October 1, 2002 to meet with abductees and to collect information on the abductees whose condition was still unknown. North Korea, however, provided only a limited amount of information to the team, much of it inconsistent and of questionable credibility. In one specific case, forensic testing of "remains" handed over and identified by North Korea as those of Mr. Kaoru Matsuki indicated that the "remains" belonged, in fact, to someone else.
  2. (b)At the 12th round of Japan-North Korea Normalization Talks held in Kuala Lumpur on October 29-30, 2002, the GoJ pointed out 150 inconsistencies in the information North Korea had provided and requested further details on these items. North Korea, however, has yet to provide an adequate response to this request.

(C) Five Abductees Return to Japan (October 2002)

In response to demands by the GoJ, North Korea released five abductees (Yasushi and Fukie Chimura, Kaoru and Yukiko Hasuike, and Ms. Hitomi Soga). They arrived in Japan and were reunited with their families on October 15, 2002.

As a result of a decision that the abductees needed to be in an environment where they were free to determine their own future and that of their families who were still in North Korea, the GoJ announced on October 24 that the abductees would remain in Japan. The GoJ also called on North Korea to ensure the safety of the abductees' family members still in North Korea and to immediately set a date for them to travel to Japan.

Securing the return of these family members and obtaining a full account of the whereabouts of abductees whose fates remain unknown then became serious points of contention and negotiation between Japan and North Korea.

(D) Second Japan-North Korea Summit Meeting (May 2004)

To confirm the will to implement the points agreed to in the Pyongyang Declaration at the First Japan-North Korea Summit Meeting and to restore trust between Japan and North Korea, then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi traveled to North Korea on May 22, 2004. Discussions focused on the abduction issue and other points of contention between Japan and North Korea, as well as on issues affecting peace and security in Northeast Asia, such as nuclear arms and ballistic missiles. During these discussions, Prime Minister Koizumi and Chairman Kim Jong-Il agreed to the following points regarding the abduction issue.

  • North Korea agreed to allow the five family members of Kaoru and Yukiko Hasuike and Yasushi and Fukie Chimura to return to Japan. (On his trip, the Prime Minister spent an hour trying to negotiate the travel of Ms. Soga's three family members to Japan. Though her husband and children did not travel to Japan on the same day as the others, they did eventually arrive in Japan on July 18.
  • North Korea agreed to immediately reopen investigations and start from scratch to uncover the facts about the abductees whose condition remains unknown to this day.

(E) Japan-North Korea Working-Level Consultations (August, September, November 2004)

  1. (a) Japan-North Korea Working-Level Consultations were held in Beijing later that year, the first meeting on August 11-12 and the second meeting on September 25-26. The North Korean side presented the preliminary results of its ongoing investigation into the abductees whose condition was still unknown. North Korea, however, did not provide adequate evidence or sufficient documentation to back up the information it presented.
  2. (b) To build on the steps taken in the first two meetings, a third round of Japan-North Korea Working-Level Consultations took place in Pyongyang from November 9 to 14, 2004. These discussions lasted more than 50 hours. In addition to a question-and-answer session with the Investigation Committee, direct hearings were held with a total of 16 "witnesses," and on-site inspections of facilities and other locations relevant to the abduction cases were conducted.
    The third round of consultations also addressed cases of missing persons not yet identified as abductees by the GoJ, but in which the possibility of abduction by North Korea could not be ruled out. The GoJ presented the North Korean side with the names of five such missing persons and requested information on their situations. The GoJ again demanded that further information on the abduction of any and all Japanese citizens be immediately provided, whether or not they had been specifically identified by the GoJ. In response, North Korea asserted that there was no evidence that any of these five individuals had ever entered North Korea.
  3. (c)The GoJ immediately reviewed the information and examined the physical evidence presented by North Korea at the third Working-Level Consultations. On December 24, the GoJ released its findings to the public. The following day, December 25, the GoJ presented the points outlined below to North Korea in both verbal and written form. The GoJ also took this opportunity to present North Korea with a summary of its findings and test results for remains North Korea claimed belonged to Ms. Megumi Yokota.
    • There is nothing to corroborate the physical evidence or claims presented by North Korea at the Third Japan-North Korea Working-Level Consultations that eight of the abductees had died and two of the individuals in question had never entered North Korea. The GoJ considers these claims unacceptable and strongly objects to the lack of good faith demonstrated by North Korea at these consultations.
    • The information and evidence presented by North Korea to date is insufficient to provide a full account of the abductees whose whereabouts are still unknown, and the fresh, thorough investigation "from scratch" that was promised has not taken place. DNA tests revealed that the "remains" North Korea presented as "those of Ms. Megumi Yokota" contained DNA from different people.
    • The GoJ strongly demands that a full accounting regarding the abductees whose condition is still unknown be promptly provided and that any survivors be allowed to return to Japan immediately. The Government is prepared to take serious measures if North Korea chooses not to respond promptly and in good faith.
  4. (d) On January 26, 2005, the North Korean side presented the GoJ with a Memorandum dated January 24 that outlined, among other matters, North Korea's stance on the results of DNA analysis by Japan on the "remains" claimed to be those of Megumi Yokota. In presenting the Memorandum, North Korea also demanded that Japan return the remains. On February 10, the GoJ countered the North Korean arguments in the Memorandum, demanding once again that all surviving abductees be allowed to immediately return to Japan and that a full accounting be given on the facts of these cases. On February 24 and April 13, North Korea repeated its objections to Japan's stance, which the GoJ countered by referring once again to the objective and scientific results of its analysis.

(F) Japan-North Korea Comprehensive Talks (February 2006)

Japan-North Korea Comprehensive Talks were held on February 4-8, 2006 in Beijing to facilitate across-the-board talks on the abduction and nuclear and ballistic missile issues, as well as on the normalization of relations. Consultations on the abduction issue lasted a total of 11 hours. During these meetings, the GoJ again demanded that all survivors be allowed to return to Japan, that North Korea pledge to reopen investigations in order to provide a full accounting of the unresolved cases, and that those responsible for carrying out the abductions be turned over to Japanese authorities.

In response to Japan's demands, the North Korean side repeated its past assertions that every survivor had already been returned to Japan. North Korea insisted it had already investigated the cases in good faith, declared that it stood by the results of its past investigations, and refused to promise further investigations into cases in which the abductees' conditions were still unknown. North Korea also charged that Japan's demand that those responsible for the abductions be extradited was simply political maneuvering, and refused to comply.

It is clear that North Korea showed no willingness to make concrete progress toward a resolution of the abduction issue. Instead, the North Korean side demanded that seven Japanese nationals involved in aiding North Korean defectors be extradited to North Korea for violations of North Korean laws.

(G) Task Force for the Normalization of Japan-North Korea Ties (March, September 2007)

At the Six-Party Talks in February 2007, the parties agreed to establish a Task Force for the Normalization of Japan-North Korea Ties. The first task force meeting was held in Hanoi on March 7-8, 2007. At this meeting, the GoJ repeated its demands that North Korea guarantee the safety of all of the abductees and their families, allow them to immediately return to Japan, provide a full accounting of their cases, and extradite to Japan those responsible for carrying out the abductions. The North Korean side, however, not only repeated their prior position that the abduction issue had already been resolved, but also called on Japan to lift "economic sanctions" against North Korea and contrariwise demonstrated a lack of good faith toward resolving the abduction issue. The second task force meeting was held in Ulan Baatar on September 5-6. Japan and North Korea agreed that, based on the Pyongyang Declaration, the two parties would work together in good faith to hold active discussions that would result in progress through concrete actions designed to normalize relations as quickly as possible, would put the sad history between them in the past, and would settle unresolved issues. However, no progress was made at the task force meeting on the abduction issue.

On July 20, between the first and second task force meetings, North Korea presented a Memorandum from its Foreign Ministry stating that North Korea considered the abduction issue resolved and criticizing Japan's stance on the abduction issue. In response, the GoJ issued a statement at a Ministry of Foreign Affairs press conference on July 25 explaining that the North Korean Memorandum was totally unacceptable.

(H) Japan-North Korea Working-Level Consultations (June, August 2008)

  1. (a) Japan-North Korea Working-Level Consultations were held on June 11-12, 2008 in Beijing. At these talks, Japan and North Korea reiterated their respective positions on such issues as the abductions and the settling of past disputes, with the two parties engaging in serious and in-depth negotiations on the abduction issue.
    As a result of these talks, the North Korean position shifted away from past assertions that the abduction issue had already been resolved. North Korea agreed to carry out a reinvestigation into the abduction cases and pledged to work with Japan to resolve issues involving Yodo-go Group members.
    In light of North Korea's change in position, Japan agreed to lift certain measures previously taken against North Korea. Specifically, restrictions on travel to and from North Korea and chartered flights were to be removed, and North Korean vessels would be allowed to enter Japanese ports expressly for the purpose of transporting humanitarian aid.
  2. (b) At subsequent Working-Level Consultations in August 2008, Japan and North Korea reached agreement on the purpose the investigation would serve and the specific terms under which it would be carried out. Under this agreement, North Korea would take concrete action intended to resolve the abduction issue by launching a thorough investigation into the abduction issue meant to uncover the whereabouts of the survivors and ensure their safe return to Japan. The GoJ for its part announced that Japan was prepared to remove restrictions on travel to and from North Korea and chartered flights as soon as North Korea launched the investigation.
    In September that year, however, North Korea informed the GoJ that, in view of the sudden change of administration in Japan, (following the resignation of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda) it would refrain from launching an investigation committee until it could discern the thinking of any new administration regarding the implementation of the measures agreed in the Working-Level Consultations. The agreed measures outlined above have still not been implemented.

(2) Measures Taken Against North Korea

(A) North Korea Launches Ballistic Missiles and Announces Nuclear Testing (July and October 2006)

  1. (a) On July 5, 2006, North Korea launched seven ballistic missiles in the direction of Japan. The GoJ responded the same day by implementing nine measures against North Korea, including banning the North Korean ferry Mangyongbong-92 from entering Japanese ports. The Government strongly condemned the North Korean actions when it announced the details of these sanctions.
    North Korea furthermore blatantly defied the frequent warnings of the international community, announcing on October 9 of the same year that they had conducted nuclear testing. Strongly condemning North Korea and expressing resolute opposition to such testing, the GoJ responded on October 11 with four measures against North Korea, which included bans on the entry into Japanese harbors of all North Korean-flagged vessels and on the import of all North Korean goods.
  2. (b) This series of measures against North Korea was taken in consideration of the international political climate and the varying complex factors that made up the larger picture. One of the factors that influenced the decision to implement these measures was the fact that North Korea had not acted in good faith to resolve the abduction issue. In light of the larger picture, which included a lack of concrete progress on the abduction issue, the GoJ decided to implement two of these measures - the bans on the entry into Japanese harbors of all North Korean-flagged vessels and on the import of all North Korean goods - for four six-month periods commencing on April 10 and October 9, 2007, and April 11 and October 10, 2008.

(B) North Korea Launches Missiles and Announces Nuclear Testing (April, May 2009)

  1. (a) On April 5, 2009 North Korea again launched missiles. In response, on April 10 the GoJ decided to extend by one year the measures it had been implementing against North Korea since North Korea's ballistic missile launches and nuclear testing in 2006 and to implement two new measures aimed at gaining a more detailed grasp of the situation regarding flows of money to North Korea.
    Furthermore, North Korea announced on May 25 that it had conducted an underground nuclear test. In response to this, on June 16 the GoJ decided to add two further measures, including a ban on the export of all goods to North Korea.
  2. (b) On April 9, 2010 and April 5, 2011 the GoJ decided to extend by one year three measures that were about to expire on April 13, including bans on the entry into Japanese harbors of all North Korean-flagged vessels.
  3. (c) These measures against North Korea were added to or extended in view of the various circumstances surrounding North Korea, such as its refusal to return to the Six-Party Talks as well as the nuclear and missile issues. Another reason is North Korea's failure to commence the comprehensive investigation it agreed to conduct in August 2008 or to take any other concrete action to address the abduction issue. [See (1) (H) above.]

(C) North Korea Makes a Torpedo Attack on an ROK Navy Patrol Boat (March 2010)

  1. (a) On May 28, 2010, in the wake of the North Korean torpedo attack on an ROK Navy patrol boat that took place in March 2010, the GoJ took two further toughening measures in order to carefully grasp the actual situation of the financial flow into North Korea that had newly come into effect in April 2009. Additionally, the GoJ mounted even more severe response to in order to prevent roundabout imports and exports flowing between Japan and North Korea via third countries.
  2. (b) These additional measures against North Korea were decided after comprehensively taking into consideration various situations involving North Korea together with the key factor of the North Korean torpedo attack on the ROK Navy patrol boat, but the fact that the North Korean side has not taken specific action towards achieving an all-inclusive solution to the abduction, nuclear and missile issues, etc., became one of the criteria for deciding on the implementation of these measures.

3. Efforts by the International Community

(1) Growing International Concern About the Abduction Issue

  1. (A) The abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea is a grave and clear violation of human dignity, human rights and basic freedoms. The UN Human Rights Council has adopted resolutions on the human rights situation in North Korea for three consecutive years (a figure that rises to seven years so far if counted from the time of its predecessor organization the former UN Commission on Human Rights). In August 2010, Mr. Marzuki Darusman replaced Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in North Korea, who is appointed under the resolutions. The Special Rapporteurs have made a series of visits to Japan every year since 2005, and presented reports, based partly on the results of these visits, to the UN Commission on Human Rights (since 2006 the UN Human Rights Council) and the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly. The 2011 report concludes that North Korean authorities should comprehensively address the unresolved cases of abduction, including accountability for the agents responsible for such abductions.
  2. (B) In addition to the resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council, a resolution on the human rights situation in North Korea was also adopted by the plenary session of the UN General Assembly for the first time in December 2006. Since then it has been approved by a majority of member states for six consecutive years. This UN General Assembly resolution, submitted jointly by Japan and the European Union, expresses deep concern for the human rights situation in North Korea, including the issue of the abduction of foreign nationals, and strongly calls on the North Korean authorities to resolve this issue quickly and to ensure the swift and safe return of the abductees. (The resolution was proposed jointly by 52 countries in 2010, including the ROK each year since 2008.) Even many countries that did not cast a vote in favor of this resolution (such as Vietnam, Brazil, India, Malaysia, etc.) expressed concern regarding North Korea's handling of the abduction issue. in December 2009, the Universal Periodic Review working group of the Human Rights Council carried out a review of the human rights situation in North Korea, and ratified a report recording the concerns and recommendations expressed by Japan and other countries concerning the abduction issue and other aspects of human rights in North Korea.
  3. (C) Awareness regarding non-Japanese abductees is rising both in Japan and overseas. The ROK Government has stated that nearly 4,000 ROK citizens were abducted by North Korea just after the Korean War and that approximately 500 of them have not yet returned to the ROK (Note). The ROK Government also considers that approximately 100,000 people were abducted during the Korean War, and is presently proceeding with efforts to reveal the truth behind the abductions. Moreover, the testimony from the abductees who have returned to Japan made it clear that there are people in North Korea from Thailand, Romania and Lebanon who could also have been abducted. In addition, according to the testimony from South Korean abductees who have returned home from North Korea, it is said that there are also Chinese citizens who have been abducted by North Korea. Under such circumstances, the families of the abductees and their support groups in these countries are working together and the governments are also closely cooperating with each other, for example, in information exchange. In May 2006, it was revealed that Megumi Yokota's husband was highly likely to be Kim Yong-Nam, an abducted citizen of the ROK. Furthermore, regarding Yaeko Taguchi, since the possibility cannot be ruled out that she also married an abducted citizen of the ROK, the GoJ is proceeding with its investigation in earnest.
    (Note) On the list of abductees is included the South Korean missionary Kim Dong-Shik (abducted in 2000), who held US permanent resident status. Concerning this case, in a statement made in October 2008 in response to the decision to remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, then-US Senator (currently President) Barack Obama said, "Looking ahead, North Korea must also resolve all questions about the abduction of Japanese and South Korean citizens, and of the Reverend Kim Dong-Shik."

(2) Diplomatic Steps Taken by Japan

  1. (A) In addition to the abovementioned efforts at the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council, the GoJ has taken every diplomatic opportunity at international conferences, G8 summits, and meetings between heads of state to raise the abduction issue, gaining the understanding and support of countries around the world. At the Muskoka G8 Summit held in June 2010, for example, Japan asked the other G8 nations for their understanding and cooperation on the abduction issue, and in response the Leaders Declaration included a statement urging North Korea to immediately address the human rights concerns of the international community, including the abduction issue. (This marks the third time in succession that the G8 Leaders Declaration has included an explicit reference to the abduction issue, the first having been at the Hokkaido Toyako Summit in 2008. The abduction issue has also been raised by the G8 continually since the Evian Summit in 2003 in the Chair's Summary and other documents.)
    Support for the stance taken by Japan on the abduction issue has also been expressed at bilateral meetings between heads of state. For example, the United States has regularly shown understanding of and cooperation with Japan's stance on the abduction issue. In particular, President Obama remarked in a speech delivered in Tokyo in April 2009 that, "North Korea's full normalization with its neighbors can only come if Japanese families receive a full accounting of those who have been abducted." In February 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Japan and met with the families of the abductees, stating that, "The abductee issue is of grave concern. It is such a human tragedy."
    Meanwhile, President Lee Myung-Bak of the Republic of Korea has repeatedly declared up to now that the ROK will provide the maximum possible cooperation and support on the abduction issue. At the Japan-ROK Summit Meeting in June 2010, President Lee stated, “The abduction issue should be approached as a human rights issue. Japan and the ROK will cooperate on this issue continuously."
    In addition, President Hu Jintao of China and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia have both expressed understanding of Japan's stance on the abduction issue.
  2. (B) The Joint Statement adopted at the Six-Party Talks in September 2005 reflected Japan's basic policy that there can be no normalization of relations with North Korea until unresolved issues, which include the abduction issue, are settled. One of the objectives of these Six-Party Talks is to take steps to normalize relations by putting the sad history between Japan and North Korea in the past, and to settle unresolved issues such as the abductions of Japanese citizens. The Six-Party Talks held in February 2007 to move this process forward focused on negotiating denuclearization and establishing a task force for the normalization of Japan-North Korea ties. The Six-Party Talks held in September 2007 concluded with Japan and North Korea agreeing to take concrete steps toward building relations. A statement to this effect was released on October 3.
    At the Six-Party Talks held in February, it was agreed that North Korea would receive economic and energy aid in return for taking steps toward denuclearization. The GoJ, however, took the position that Japan would not participate in the Six-Party Talks agreement to provide energy to North Korea unless progress was made on the abduction issue.
  3. (C)As the statements above definitively illustrate, the international community clearly understands the importance of bringing the abduction issue to a resolution and supports the approach taken by the GoJ to facilitate this. The understanding and support of the international community is essential to putting pressure on North Korea to move decisively to resolve this issue, and the GoJ will continue to take every opportunity to work with the international community on this issue.

4. Steps Taken in Japan

(1) Investigations and Inquiries by the GoJ

Since the Japan-North Korea Summit Meeting in September 2002, the GoJ has received continuous cooperation from the abductees who have returned to Japan and has continued to conduct investigations and inquiries into other cases of abduction by North Korea, as well as cases in which the possibility of abduction cannot be ruled out. As a result of these investigations and inquiries, the GoJ has identified new cases of abduction and people suspected of involvement in abductions as listed below. The GoJ is committed to ongoing investigations and inquiries and will raise any new cases identified as abductions with North Korea as they arise. At the same time, the Government will do all it can to obtain a full accounting of the known abductions, including the identification of those responsible for these crimes.

(A) Additional Identified Abductees

Investigations and inquiries by Japanese authorities have uncovered new evidence that leads the GoJ to suspect that a case involving the disappearance of a woman in Tottori Prefecture in October 1977 (Ms. Kyoko Matsumoto) and a case involving the disappearance of a man in Hyogo Prefecture in June 1978 (Mr. Minoru Tanaka) are also cases of abduction by North Korea. Based on this evidence, the GoJ added Minoru Tanaka on April 27, 2005 and Kyoko Matsumoto on November 20, 2006 to the list of Japanese citizens identified as abducted by North Korea. These two new cases put the number of cases identified by the GoJ as abductions by North Korea at 12 cases involving a total of 17 persons.

With regard to the case of two siblings of Korean nationality revealed to have been abducted in Japan by North Korean authorities, the GoJ maintains that abduction is both a serious violation of human rights, regardless of nationality, and a violation of Japan's national sovereignty. For this reason, the GoJ demands that North Korea allow these two people to return to Japan, the place from which they were taken, and that a full accounting be given concerning this case.

(B) Identified Suspects in Abduction Cases

On February 23, 2006, Japanese authorities identified North Korean agent Sin Kwang-Su as the person responsible for the abduction of Yasushi and Fukie Chimura, and a North Korean agent known as Choi Sun-Chol, who calls himself Kenzo Kosumi, as the person responsible for the abduction of Kaoru and Yukiko Hasuike. On November 2, 2006, Japanese authorities identified a North Korean agent commonly known as Kim Myong-Suk as the person responsible for the abduction of Ms. Hitomi Soga and her mother Miyoshi. On February 22, 2007, Japanese authorities identified two individuals whose true names are still unconfirmed, a man calling himself Han Myeong-Il (a.k.a. Han Geum-Nyeong), who was then an advisor to the Japan division of the Foreign Information and Research Department of the Korean Labor Party, and a man calling himself Kim Nam-Jin as co-conspirators in the abduction of the Hasuikes. On June 13, 2007, Japanese authorities identified Junko Mori and Sakiko Wakabayashi (nee Kuroda), wives of Yodo-go members, as responsible for the abductions of Mr. Toru Ishioka and Mr. Kaoru Matsuki. Arrest warrants were issued for all of these suspects on these dates and their names were listed with Interpol. The GoJ demands that North Korea extradite these individuals to Japan.

Japanese authorities have long been working on cases of abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea. Since August 2002, arrest warrants have been issued for North Korean agent Sin Kwang-Su for the abduction of Mr. Tadaaki Hara (in the Sin Kwang-Su case); Yodo-go member Kimihiro Uomoto (formerly Kimihiro Abe) for the abduction of Ms. Keiko Arimoto; and North Korean agent Kim Se-Ho as the main suspect in the abduction of Mr. Yutaka Kume (in the Ushitsu case). These suspects have all been listed with Interpol, and the GoJ demands that North Korea extradite these individuals to Japan. An arrest warrant has also been issued for Kim Kil-Uk as a co-conspirator in the abduction of Mr. Tadaaki Hara, and hid name was listed with Interpol.

On April 26, 2007, Japanese authorities issued an arrest warrant for Yoko Kinoshita (a.k.a. Hong Su-Hye), as the main suspect in the case of the suspected abduction in Japan of siblings of North Korean nationality, and her name was listed with Interpol.

(C) DNA Analysis on Megumi Yokota's Husband (April 2006)

In April 2006, DNA analysis conducted by the GoJ revealed a high probability that Mr. Kim Young-Nam, a South Korean citizen abducted from the Republic of Korea as a high school student in 1978, was married to Ms. Megumi Yokota. The GoJ presented the results of this analysis to North Korea and once again demanded a sincere response in moving toward the resolution of the abduction issue. The Government of the Republic of Korea conducted its own independent tests and came up with the same results in May 2006.

(D) Meeting Between Family of Ms. Yaeko Taguchi and Kim Hyon-Hui (March 2009)

On March 11, 2009, members of the Iizuka family, relatives of Ms. Yaeko Taguchi, met with Kim Hyon-Hui (convicted bomber of Korean Air Flight 858), an important witness in the case of Ms. Taguchi, in Busan, Republic of Korea. As important new information regarding Ms. Taguchi (see note) was gained from Kim through the meeting, the GoJ is currently working to confirm this information.

Note: Kim said: "After returning from Macau in January 1987, I heard from a driver in February or March that Ms. Taguchi had been taken to an unknown location. I'd heard that in 1986 an abductee living alone had been made to marry, so I thought that Ms. Taguchi must also have gone somewhere to get married."

(2) Enforcement of Law to Address the Abduction Issue and Other North Korean Human Rights Violations (June 2006)

The purpose of this law is to raise awareness among the Japanese public of the abduction issue and other human rights violations by the North Korean authorities, as well as to encourage cooperation with the international community to elicit a full accounting of the situation regarding the abduction issue and to prevent it from happening again in the future. The law was promulgated and put into effect on June 23, 2006.

The purpose of this law is to raise awareness among the Japanese public of the abduction issue and other human rights violations by the North Korean authorities, as well as to encourage cooperation with the international community to elicit a full accounting of the situation regarding the abduction issue and to prevent it from happening again in the future. The law was promulgated and put into effect on June 23, 2006.

North Korean Human Rights Abuses Awareness Week is held each year in December, and the GoJ marks this week by sponsoring PR events, lectures, symposia, and public forums, as well as by providing support for international conferences sponsored by citizens' groups and other private sector organizations.

(3) Establishing a New Headquarters for the Abduction Issue (October 2009)

  1. (A)In September 2006, the GoJ established the (former) Headquarters for the Abduction Issue headed by the Prime Minister with the goal of moving forward on comprehensive measures to resolve the abduction issue. The Headquarters was made up of the entire Cabinet and was structured as a central body to provide for the first time a unified approach throughout the Government to the resolution of the abduction issue.
  2. (B)In October 2009, the GoJ dissolved the previous Headquarters and established a new Headquarters for the Abduction Issue headed by the Prime Minister with the aims of pushing forward with a comprehensive policy to achieve the prompt return of all living abductees, the investigation of the truth regarding the abductees whose fates are still unknown, and strategic steps to resolve the issue (headed by the Prime Minister, supported by the Minister of State for the Abduction Issue, the Chief Cabinet Secretary and the Minister for Foreign Affairs as vice chiefs).
    The new Headquarters held its first meeting in October 2009, when it announced that it would work to build up its information-gathering capacity in particular and reasserted that the entire government would work together on efforts to ensure the prompt return of all abductees to Japan. Moreover, at the fourth meeting in November 2010, based on the approach to the abduction issue confirmed at the second meeting in June 2010, the Headquarters revealed its head's instructions consisting of eight items towards the resolution of the abduction issue (Re. attached sheet).

(4) Public Relations Activities

Understanding that interest among the public both in Japan and overseas in the cases of individuals abducted by North Korea is also a vital component of the effort to bring the abduction issue to resolution, the GoJ is undertaking a variety of activities designed to bring attention to the abduction issue. In addition to the North Korean Human Rights Abuses Awareness Week events described above, PR activities also include sponsoring local events, creating and distributing informational DVDs and pamphlets, and advising on the hosting of screenings and lectures on the topic, as well as providing speakers for these events.

The GoJ also focuses on broadcasting messages of the families to abducted Japanese citizens who remain in North Korea, as well as disseminating information in Japan and overseas on the developments regarding abductions and other issues. To facilitate these efforts, the GoJ introduced shortwave radio broadcasts to North Korea in July 2007 via two programs: Furusato no Kaze or Wind of Homeland (in Japanese) and Il Bon E Param or Wind of Japan (in Korean).