World / Asia-Pacific

Japan expects abduction report from DPRK by year-end

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-10-31 19:51

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a lower house committee on Friday that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has promised a thorough investigation into the abduction of Japanese nationals and will, by the year-end, present a report on the latest round of its investigations into the issue.

Abe said that the DPRK had assured Japan that its current investigations would be independent from any previous ones and would include probes into clandestine organizations that may have directly been responsible for carrying out the kidnappings.

The DPRK conducted initial investigations into the abductions in 2002 and 2004 of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, but Japan at the time maintained that the results were dubious.

Abe's remarks came following a briefing from Junichi Ihara, the leader of a 12-member mission and director general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, was deployed to hold talks on the issue with DPRK committee officials.

Ihara was in talks with DPRK officials on the matter for more than 10 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday in Pyongyang.

Ihara said he and his team held in-depth talks with the DPRK committee, established in July and headed by So Tae Ha, the vice minister of state security and counselor for security at the National Defense Commission, one of the state's highest commissions, led by DPRK leader Kim Jong Un.

In July, Tokyo agreed to lift some of its sanctions on Pyongyang in return for the DPRK to reopen its investigation into the abductee issue. Japan agreed to lift some of its sanctions including those pertaining to human travel, wire transfers and vessels entering ports here.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Friday that he expected the DPRK to present its new findings within the year, as it had previously committed to presenting an initial report on its reinvestigation between summer and early autumn this year.

But Suga said that despite the committee's reinvestigation into 12 individual abduction cases, including a possible house used to hold abductees, as well as deeper probes into both physical evidence and eye witness testimonies, the DPRK committee has yet to turn up any new evidence on the cases that are objective and unequivocal.

In 2002, the DPRK admitted to having abducted 13 Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, but has repeatedly stated since then the matter has already been settled with Japan, with five of the abductees allowed to return home to Japan and the remaining eight being declared dead.

With no evidence of the dead bodies being produced by the DPRK, suspicions have grown in Japan that there may have been further abductions and Abe has stated that Japan will continue to tackle the problem until it's fully resolved.

Along with Keiji Furuya, who now heads the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's task force on the DPRK abductions, following Abe's Cabinet reshuffle, Abe stated previously that Japan's mission will never end until the day comes when families of all abduction victims are able to"embrace their children with their own arms."

In March, the DPRK permitted the daughter of a Japanese woman who was abducted in the 1970s and later died to travel to Mongolia to meet her grandparents, who had flown in from Japan.

Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told a press briefing Friday that Japan has fully conveyed its position to the DPRK that resolving the abduction issue remains its top priority.

Kishida also said Japan was also able to exert more pressure on the DPRK to investigate and report its outcomes in a more timely manner and that was part of the reason the delegation was sent from here in the first place despite some opposition.

Kishida said he hopes the face-to-face discussions will yield positive results at an early date.

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