Efforts by the GoJ

Establishing the Headquarters for the Abduction Issue

After North Korea admitted to the abductions in 2002, the GoJ made concerted efforts towards resolving this issue and established the Headquarters for the Abduction Issue in September 2006 to further bolster the government framework in dealing with this issue.

The Headquarters is headed by the Prime Minister as chief with the Chief Cabinet Secretary and Minister of State for the Abduction Issue as Deputy Chief and all other Cabinet Ministers serving as members ( > see organization structure). This has further enabled the Government to act in unison in dealing with this issue.

 

Policy

As its policy, the GoJ has made clear from the outset that:

" The abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korea is a grave issue in terms of national sovereignty as well as the lives and safety of the Japanese citizens and there will be no normalisation of relations with North Korea unless the abduction issue is resolved. "

At its first meeting in October 2007, the Headquarters decided on the "Policy on the abduction issue" which outlined the following 6 main points that the GoJ would pursue hereafter in addition to confirming the above policy.

  1. Call on North Korea to secure the safety of all of the victims and for their immediate return
  2. Further consider North Korean measures as necessary
  3. Uphold stringent law enforcement
  4. Continue to assimilate and assess intelligence and to raise awareness on this issue
  5. Continue investigations into cases that cannot be ruled out as cases of abduction
  6. Strengthen international cooperation.

The GoJ, while continuing to adhere to its basic strategy of "dialogue and pressure" will promote and strengthen measures along the lines of the above "Policy on the abduction issue" and take every opportunity to strongly demand that North Korea take an expeditious and decisive step towards resolving this issue.

 

Negotiations with North Korea

- Position of the GoJ:

On the premise that all of the other abductees are still alive, the GoJ is currently demanding North Korea to:

  1. Secure the safety of and immediately return the abductees
  2. Reveal the truth of the abductions
  3. Hand over the culprits

The GoJ has also made clear to North Korea that it is prepared to consider further stringent measures, depending on North Korea's willingness to address this issue sincerely.

- The current North Korean response:

North Korea has contended that "the abduction issue is resolved" on grounds that it has returned all of the surviving abductees and provided sufficient material evidence and explanations for the rest of the abductees.
To the contrary, however, North Korea has continued to fail to provide any convincing material evidence or explanation on the whereabouts of the abductees with the exception of 5 abdcutees. > refer to "Main Points of Contention"

- Record of major exchanges between Japan and North Korea

 

Sept.17th 2002
[First Japan-DPRK Summit]
  • Chairman Kim Jong-il admits to the abductions, offers an apology, pledges to punish the culprits and prevent any recurrence.
  • North Korea proclaimed the following:
    4 abductees surviving
    8 abductees deceased,
    1 abductee could not be confirmed to have entered their country
    (North Korea also disclosed that they held an abductee who was not asked after).
  • The then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi strongly protests and demands the North Korean side to continue their investigation into the fate of the other abductees, return the surviving, and put an end to the abductions.

 

Sept.28th - Oct.1st 2002
GoJ dispatches an investigation team to North Korea to:

  1. interview the 5 survivors
  2. gather information on the other abductees whose whereabouts remain unknown.
North Korea, however, merely provides inconsistent information which included many questionable points.

October 15th 2002 5 abductees return to Japan

 

  • 5 abductees were temporarily returned to Japan (but without their children who they were forced to stay in North Korea) and met their families for the first time in over 24 years.
  • On Oct 24th, the GoJ announced their decision that the 5 abductees would continue to remain in Japan and await the return of their spouses and children.

Hence,

  1. returning the spouses and children of the 5 abductees and
  2. Truths of the whereabouts of the remaining abductees

became the imminent issue for Japan and North Korea.

May.22nd 2004
[Second Japan-DPRK Summit]

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi revisited North Korea and agreed on the following points with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

  • North Korea will allow the family members of the aforementioned abductees to return to Japan.
  • North Korea will promptly embark on a totally new investigation aimed at uncovering the truth of the remaining abductees whose whereabouts are unclear.

August, September & November 2004
[Japan-DPRK Working-Level Consultations]

  • The 1st & 2nd Japan-DPRK working-level consultations produced only fragmented, preliminary information.
  • The 3rd Japan-DPRK working-level consultations which lasted over 50 hours on aggregate featured question and answer sessions with the "investigation committee" of North Korea, interviews with 16 witnesses and on-site inspections of facilities related to the abductions.

After closely examining the information and evidence, the GOJ made the results public on December 24th and informed North Korea of the following points on the 25th.

  • There is no evidence attesting to the North Korean claim that "eight abductees have passed away and there is no trace of two abductees having entered their country". Such explanations are unacceptable and the GoJ strongly protests at the lack of sincerity by North Korea.
  • The investigation cannot be considered as a thorough and totally fresh re-investigation. The information and evidence falls completely short of what is necessary to uncover the truth concerning the abductees who remain unaccounted for.
  • DNA tests revealed that there were DNA from different persons among the "remains" which North Korea presented as "those of Ms. Megumi Yokota".
  • The GoJ strongly calls on North Korea to provide a full account of the abductees whose whereabouts remains unknown and to return the survivors without any further delay. The GoJ is prepared to take stringent measures if an expeditious and sincere response is not forthcoming.

 

 

February 4th-8th 2006 [ Japan-DPRK Comprehensive Talks ]

 

During February 4th- 8th, the Japan-DPRK Comprehensive Talks (in Beijing), North Korea made little efforts to resolve this issue.

the GoJ strongly reiterated their demand for

  1. the immediate return of the surviving abductees
  2. a pledge to conduct a reinvestigation to uncovering the truth
  3. hand over the culprits

North Korea insisted that

  1. they had returned all of the surviving abductees
  2. they had investigated the matter in good faith and genuinely conveyed their findings to the effect that they could not promise a reinvestigation
  3. handing over the culprits was a political issue and was unacceptable

 

July & October 2006

[ North Korea carries out ballistic missile tests (July 5th) and claims that it conducted Nuclear tests (October 9th) ]

The GoJ repeatedly decided on a set of measures aimed at North Korea in response to North Korea's ballistic missile tests(July 5th) and their announcement that it had conducted nuclear tests(October 9th).

On deciding these measures, the GoJ took into account all relevant aspects, including the fact that North Korea had not made any sincere efforts towards resolving the abduction issue.

 

March 7th & 8th 2007 [ Japan-DPRK Working Group for Normalisations ]

 

Following the agreement at the Six Party talks in February, the 1st session of the Japan-DPRK Working Group for Normalisations were held between March 7th-8th.

The GoJ renewed their demand that North Korea immediately return the abductees and secure their safety, uncover the truth of the abductees, and to hand over the culprits.

North Korea, however, displayed no sincerity towards resolving this issue as it continued to maintain their view that the "abduction issue was resolved" as well as demanding Japan to lift its "sanctions" against North Korea.

 

Investigations

(1) Identifying Japanese abductees

The GoJ currently identifies 17 Japanese citizens as victims of North Korean abduction in a total of 12 cases ( > list).

Mindful that there may be cases which cannot be ruled out as abduction by North Korea, the GoJ is continuing with its investigations and inquiries with a view to taking up any new cases of abductions of Japanese citizens with North Korea should they come to light. Thus far, authorities have found enough new evidence for the GoJ to further identify Mr. Tanaka and Ms. Matsumoto as abductees on April 27th 2005 and November 20th 2006 respectively.

(2) Naming the culprits of the abductions

Currently, the Japanese authorities have named 11 individuals as culprits of the cases of abductions ( > International wanted list for the abductions) and have placed these culprits on the international wanted list.

The GoJ has demanded North Korea to extradite the culprits concerned to Japan.

(3) Revealing the identity of Ms. Megumi Yokota's husband

Currently, the Japanese authorities have named 11 individuals as culprits of the cases of abductions ( > International wanted list for the abductions) and have placed these culprits on the international wanted list.

The GoJ has demanded North Korea to extradite the culprits concerned to Japan.

 

Efforts within the international community

The GoJ has taken advantage of every diplomatic occasions to raise the abduction issue, including international forums such as the G8 summit, and summit meetings, which has won the understanding and support of other nations.

(1) G8 summit

The GoJ has successfully stressed the importance of resolving the abduction issue at the G8 summit in 2006 and 2007 consecutively. In particular, at the Heiligendamm Summit of 2007, Prime Minister Abe stressed that the abduction issue was an international matter which requires a firm response from the Group of Eight countries through close coordination. This initiative resulted in the adoption of the following forceful message: "We also urge North Korea to respond to other security and humanitarian concerns of the international community, including the early resolution of the issue of abductions."

(2) Six-Party talks

The Joint Statement adopted at the Six-Party Talks in September 2005, reflected the policy of the GoJ that there can be no normalisation of relations with North Korea unless the abduction issue and other outstanding issues of concern are resolved. Furthermore, the Statement formally designated one of the objectives of the Six-Party talks as Japan and North Korea normalizing their relations upon the basis of resolving their outstanding issues of concern including the abduction issue.

(3) UN Security Council

In response to North Korea's announcement that it had conducted a nuclear test, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted UNSC Resolution No. 1718 in October 2006. As was strongly called for by the GoJ, this resolution underlines the importance of North Korea to respond to the "humanitarian concerns" of the international community, which clearly includes the abduction issue.