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

May 11, 2024

[Provisional translation]


On May 11, 2024, 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,
“I am KISHIDA Fumio, Prime Minister of Japan. I would like to offer a few words on the occasion of the citizens’ rally.
At today’s rally, the families of the abductees again shared with us their earnest and painful thoughts. When I received a new action policy directly from the members of 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)) this March, I also heard their wishes behind the policy. 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. In Japan, the sense of urgency is growing stronger not only among the families of the abductees but also among the public.
As we steadily share such a sense of urgency, 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.
North Korea’s nuclear and missile development program poses a grave and imminent threat to the security of Japan and endangers international peace and security. Japan will respond by continuing close collaboration with the United States, South Korea, and other members of the international community.
During my visit to the United States last month, President Biden and I held a candid exchange of views on the response to North Korea, including my explanations on Japan’s basic stance. Based on that, I once again received strong support from President Biden for the immediate resolution of the abductions issue.
I also met with the members of the AFVKN, NARKN, and the Committee of Congressional Members to Act for the Early Rescue of Japanese Victims Abducted by North Korea at the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday and was informed that they received sympathy and understanding of U.S. government officials and Congress members, among others. Then I received a written request based on the results of their visit to the United States.
We will take your wishes to heart and work together with the international community, including the U.S.
While urging the international community to provide support in this way, Japan also needs to act proactively.
Establishing a fruitful relationship between Japan and North Korea is in the interests of both sides, and will greatly contribute to peace and stability in the region. However, the longer the current situation drags on, the more difficult it may become to realize a new relationship between Japan and North Korea. We must not waste even a moment and boldly change the current situation.
It is necessary for Japan to act proactively to break through the shell of mutual distrust between Japan and North Korea that have persisted for many years. As the resolution of outstanding issues of concern is no easy task, I believe it crucial to start with building a relationship that will allow the leaders of both sides to hold candid discussions.
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.
We will continue to take every opportunity to convey to Chairman Kim my determination in light of both sides carving out a new era together, and I have said that we will advance high-level discussions under my direct initiative to realize a summit meeting at an early date. To this end, we are constantly making various efforts through various channels, and we will further intensify our efforts to realize it as soon as possible.
I call for both sides to overcome every obstacle from a broad perspective and to together make decisions for peace and stability in the region and the international community and for both sides.
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, I will stand at the fore as the Prime Minister and do my utmost to take on the abductions issue, with the resolve to settle it with my own hands. Let me conclude my remarks by pledging this once again at today’s meeting.”


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