Citizens’ Rally to Demand the Immediate Return to Japan of All Abductees at the Same Time

May 27, 2023
[Provisional translation]
On May 27, 2023, Prime Minister Kishida attended the Citizens’ Rally to Demand the Immediate Return to Japan of All Abductees at the Same Time held in Tokyo.

Prime Minister Kishida said in his address,
“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am KISHIDA Fumio, Prime Minister of Japan. I would like to offer a few words on the occasion of the citizens’ rally today.
In March this year, I received a new action policy directly from the Association of Families (of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea (AFVKN)) and the National Association for the Rescue (of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea (NARKN)). It is truly regrettable that we have not been able to bring back a single abductee since 2002, and the Government once again takes this fact seriously.
With regard to North Korea, the Government of Japan seeks to normalize its relations with North Korea through comprehensively resolving outstanding issues of concern, such as the abductions, nuclear, and missile issues, and settling the unfortunate past, in accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration of 2002. In particular, the abduction of Japanese nationals, an issue whose resolution has time constraints, is a human rights issue about which we cannot let our mindfulness dwindle for even a moment, as the families of the victims continue to age.
We will do our utmost to boldly tackle the issue to realize the return of all the abductees to Japan at the earliest possible date.
In the G7 Hiroshima Summit held this month, I sought the continued understanding and cooperation of the leaders toward the immediate resolution of the abductions issue and once again gained their full support.
We reaffirmed that we would urge North Korea to resolve the abductions issue immediately in the Leaders’ Communiqué.
In addition to making such appeals to the international community, it is crucial for Japan to act on its own initiative.
Establishing a constructive relationship between Japan and North Korea will not only serve the interests of both sides but also contribute greatly to regional peace and stability. However, the longer the current situation continues, the more difficult it will be to build a new relationship between Japan and North Korea may become even if both sides seek to do so. Now is the time to take bold action to change the present situation, without wasting even a moment.
To this end, I believe that it is critical that both Japan and I make proactive efforts and build relations between leaders.
This is why I have always said that I am determined to meet with Chairman Kim Jong-Un face-to-face anytime without any conditions, and I will do everything within my power in this regard.
I will continue to seize every possible opportunity to convey my determination to Chairman Kim Jong-Un from the perspective of resolving outstanding issues of concern in Japan-North Korea relations and jointly carving out a new era. At the same time, Japan will press forward proactively, engaging in high-level consultations while reporting directly to me, to bring about summit-level talks at an early time.
Based on a broad perspective, I will overcome every obstacle and make my own decisions for the peace and stability of the region and the international community as well as for both Japan and North Korea.
Today, a firm, unanimous resolve of the Japanese citizens was expressed in this meeting. This will serve as a strong push toward the settlement of the abductions issue. I believe that it is this voice which will push the international community and then North Korea into action.

While expressing my sincere gratitude toward such strong support received from many people, united in purpose with those seeking the abductees’ return, I will stand at the fore as the Prime Minister and do my utmost to take on this issue, with the entire Government working as one. Let me conclude my remarks by pledging this once again at today’s meeting.”

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