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Mother of girl abducted by N Korea urges Kishida to resolve issue

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It’s heartbreaking for the family that one government after another is unable to do enough to put this issue to rest. How many PMs have the Yokotas appealed to now?

Will any government finally bring Megumi back - almost certainly not, but they should be doing much much more to finally bring some closure to the whole issue.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

With all respect to the pain, anxiety and tears of the abductees' families facts will not make this in any way easy.

The Japanese government has prioritized the return of the abduction victims. However, the abductees' families have said little progress has been made despite their numerous requests to previous prime ministers to resolve the issue.

...not mentioning the numerous promises by previous prime ministers which Kyodo conveniently forgets about...

Japan rejects the claim that she has died, partly because Pyongyang repatriated remains that it claimed were hers, but DNA testing conducted in Japan concluded they were not a match for Megumi.

...here too, Kyodo conveniently omits the below international controversy around the Japanese DNA test.

(source Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megumi_Yokota#DNA_controversy )

An interview in the 3 February 2005 issue of Nature revealed that the DNA analysis on Megumi's remains had been performed by a member of the medical department of Teikyo University, Yoshii Tomio. Yoshii, it later transpired, was a relatively junior faculty member, of lecturer status, in a forensic department that had neither a professor nor even an assistant professor. He said that he had no previous experience in the analysis of cremated specimens, described his tests as inconclusive, and remarked that such samples were very easily contaminated by anyone coming in contact with them, like "stiff sponges that can absorb anything". The five tiny samples he had been given to work on (the largest of them 1.5 grams) had anyway been used up in his laboratory, so independent verification was thereafter impossible.

When the Japanese government's Chief Cabinet Secretary, Hiroyuki Hosoda, referred to this article as inadequate and a misrepresentation of the government-commissioned analysis, Nature responded in an editorial (17 March), saying that:

Japan is right to doubt North Korea's every statement. But its interpretation of the DNA tests has crossed the boundary of science's freedom from political interference. Nature's interview with the scientist who carried out the tests raised the possibility that the remains were merely contaminated, making the DNA tests inconclusive. This suggestion is uncomfortable for a Japanese government that wants to have North Korea seen as unambiguously fraudulent. ...

The inescapable fact is that the bones may have been contaminated. ... It is also entirely possible that North Korea is lying. But the DNA tests that Japan is counting on won't resolve the issue. The problem is not in the science but in the fact that the government is meddling in scientific matters at all. Science runs on the premise that experiments, and all the uncertainty involved in them, should be open for scrutiny. Arguments made by other Japanese scientists that the tests should have been carried out by a larger team are convincing. Why did Japan entrust them to one scientist working alone, one who no longer seems to be free to talk about them?

Japan's policy seems a desperate effort to make up for what has been a diplomatic failure ... Part of the burden for Japan's political and diplomatic failure is being shifted to a scientist for doing his job—deriving conclusions from experiments and presenting reasonable doubts about them. But the friction between North Korea and Japan will not be decided by a DNA test. Likewise, the interpretation of DNA test results cannot be decided by the government of either country. Dealing with North Korea is no fun, but it doesn't justify breaking the rules of separation between science and politics.

Maybe the abductees' families would have more of a chance by going to North Korea and plead directly to Kim, thus giving him a chance for a media spin. If they catch him in a good day, who knows. Kishida is just yet another empty suit in a very long line of empty suits, so turning to him is unlikely to produce any other result, is it...

4 ( +13 / -9 )

Must be pretty hard for the PM's to stand up there and say they will do the best to solve the issue. The one issue they themselves, as well as everyone else, know it's impossible to solve. That is of course, if they're not using the Yokota's for their own political agendas.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

@Simian Lane

Yes, the kidnappings were an act of war. If n Korea had kidnapped that many people from say, the US, or Germany, they would have had a war on their hands. The Japanese politicians at the time of the kidnappings were as spineless as the ones today

North Korea repeatedly arrested foreign citizens on their territory though. All foreign citizens were released but I strongly doubt that it was under threat of war or anything similar...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_foreign_nationals_detained_in_North_Korea

One difference though, was that the cases did seemingly not linger on for decades as the case for Japanese citizens. (Though the situation looks increasingly bleak for detained South Korean citizens).

4 ( +4 / -0 )

 Kishida said he sees the issue as his administration's "top priority" 

oh, I thought corona was his top priority. or was that yesterday, or maybe the day before? tomorrow, the environment. Wednesday, the economy. you don't have to be an unprincipled charlatan to be a politician, but it helps.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

Don't sweat your breath! Japan can't even take back Takeshima/Dokdo from South Korea, who is viewed always inferior to Japan in the eyes of Japanese nationalists. There is no hope of getting back abducted Japanese people!

China is drumming up for the invasion of Taiwan, while Russia is going to invade Ukraine at the same time. The US and EU can't handle two front wars at the same time. The US is not going to have time for Japan's North Korean abduction issues.

Japan could have negotiated with China and Russia over North Korea for decades. Japan has wasted its opportunities in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s. There is no more concrete bridge with China and Russia over this issue because both superpower states have fed up with Japanese inaction.

-9 ( +7 / -16 )

I can’t even imagine the tragedy that these poor abducted victims had been through and the desperation of their families and friends.

My heart and sympathy goes to these people.

North Korea was and still is a sneaky and dangerous nation,with zero credibility.

Saying that I don’t think that such issue will ever be solved due to the never ending lies of Pyongyang.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

> The Japanese government has prioritized the return of the abduction victims. However, the abductees' families have said little progress has been made despite their numerous requests to previous prime ministers to resolve the issue.

…..

The LDP cannot adequately deal with the South Korean government let alone the North.

And ‘swift action’ is not something the LDP knows how to do…

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

It is not in any way to North Korea's advantage to keep any surviving Japanese against their will so, sad but true, if there were any surviving Japanese they either don't want to come home or are long dead.

Kishida is just as two-faced as all his predecessors since Koizumi who actually did try to resolve the issue.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

DynastyToday  06:19 pm JST

Don't sweat your breath! Japan can't even take back Takeshima/Dokdo from South Korea, who is viewed always inferior to Japan in the eyes of Japanese nationalists. There is no hope of getting back abducted Japanese people!

China is drumming up for the invasion of Taiwan, while Russia is going to invade Ukraine at the same time. The US and EU can't handle two front wars at the same time. The US is not going to have time for Japan's North Korean abduction issues. 

Japan could have negotiated with China and Russia over North Korea for decades. Japan has wasted its opportunities in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s. There is no more concrete bridge with China and Russia over this issue because both superpower states have fed up with Japanese inaction.

You have a very valid point here which I completely agree.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Septim DynastyToday  06:19 pm JST

Don't sweat your breath! Japan can't even take back Takeshima/Dokdo from South Korea, who is viewed always inferior to Japan in the eyes of Japanese nationalists.

That was true up to 1945. But it has been the South Koreans who have felt superior to Japan for the last 76 years. There are far more nationlists in South Korea than in Japan.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

That’s not been solved so far with no preconditions, so obviously that can be solved only with harshest possible conditions.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The pain of the parents who have had heir children ripped away from them by a foreign government will never go away. Sadly there is almost nothing anyJapanese government can do to change this situation. Diplomatic pressure on a despotic regime like the Kim’s has little effect. They only do what they want to. If NK says they are dead they are not going to embarrass the glorious (or what ever ego boosting title he has awarded him self this week) leader by suddenly finding them.

The questions over the DNA testing are valid, one thing Kishida actually has in his power is to have the testing done again by an experienced and independent body to clear up any question and during a degree of certainty to the grieving. Either it is their little girl and they have closure and can grieve for her normally or it is shown clearly it is not which embarrassment may just be enough to force NK’s hand a little on the issue.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Has any govt successfully dealt with the north Koreans. It's ludicrous to blame previous and current administrations for resolving this and any issue brought before the hermit kingdom. Dealing with madmen will only make you mad.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Sadly there is almost nothing anyJapanese government can do to change this situation.

It's ludicrous to blame previous and current administrations for resolving this and any issue brought before the hermit kingdom.

If Japanese governments past and present have resigned themselves to the fact that there is little else they can do, then they need to make that absolutely clear to the Yokotas, as well as the other families involved in the abduction issue.

Stringing them on and on by publicly saying 'this is our top priority' is inhumane if, behind closed doors, the actual policy is anything but that.

If they stand behind the claims that this issue remains the 'top priority' of every PM, then they should absolutely do more (whatever that may be), because one way or another these families need closure and they don't deserve to be used as political pawns any longer.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"I want (Kishida) to hold conversations with North Korea and realize the return of Japanese people left behind by all means,"

While I feel terribly sorry for the parents of those abducted, especially the Yokotas, who have been noting but media puppets, what does she honestly expect will change? What's Kishida going to do that Suga and Abe couldn't over the past year, or the other 50 PMs over the last 30 years? Koizumi came the closest, and even got some back, but did you see how quickly the public then turned on Koizumi for trying to make nice and make progress? He reneged so quickly on Japan's promises that NK relations with all but SK (during the Sunshine Policy years) plummeting as quickly as when they were included in the "Axis of Evil", and ensured they become a nuclear power nearly as quick as Trump for endorsing them.

It cannot be proven they are still alive, and taking the hard line so many want Japan to take will only ensure NK keeps saying, "The issue is resolved" and Ms. Yokota will live out the rest of her life never knowing. I'm sorry, but there is absolutely NOTHING Kishida will do except pose for a photo with them and promise to "do something", and then won't address the issue again until his popularity drops and he needs an issue to solidify the base.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

I feel sorry for her but I'm inclined to believe her daughter is dead and after 40 years of the Japanese not doing anything, I don't think the Kishida administration will be any different.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"I want to work hard by using whatever strength that is left,"

Wow such a prolific statement from a mom who is now left alone to fight for a cause that she has no control over. I understand her will and that of her deceased husbands, but sadly, no matter how much work she does, and no matter how much strength she has, those who used this family for what ever means will be left to deal with solving this matter if at all, but in the end while her will to fight and her strength demises only one day, someday she can finally rest without the everyday pain and suffering,

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Unfortunately, for myriad reasons, the issue will not be resolved - however, NK certainly tracks it citizenry and should be aware if Megumi Yokata is alive or has perished - it is unfortunate the remains sent to Japan were bungled in testing by an inept scientist, who deemed the tests inconclusive, which is different from declaring such otherwise.

As for the notion, kidnaping is an act of war, no matter how heinous, such an assertion ignores the consequences of war and treats it like a game to be won or lost and clueless as to the carnage.

To remind: A North Korean spy who defected to the South in 1993 told Seoul in detail about an abducted Japanese woman who matched her description. "I remember her very clearly," said Ahn Myong-jin. "I was young, and she was beautiful."

He said one of her kidnappers - a senior spy-master - had told him her story in 1988:

The abduction was an unplanned blunder, he said. No-one had meant to take a kid. Two agents finishing up a spy mission to Niigata had been waiting on the beach for a pick-up boat, when they realised they'd been spotted from the road. Fearing discovery, they grabbed the figure. Megumi was tall for her age, and in the darkness they couldn't tell she was a child.

For the first two decades after Megumi disappeared, the Yokotas had nothing but a cold case and their own desperate need to understand what had happened.

It took a convicted terrorist to finally firm up the link to North Korea.

Kim Hyun-hui had killed 115 people by helping to smuggle a bomb onto a South Korean passenger plane in 1987. Staring down a death sentence in Seoul, she testified that she was a North Korean agent acting on state orders. She said she had learned Japanese language and behaviour so she could work undercover. Her teacher, she said, was an abducted Japanese woman whom she lived with for almost two years.

The testimony was compelling. But Japan's government wouldn't officially acknowledge that North Korea was stealing people. The two countries had a hostile history and no diplomatic relations. It was easier to ignore the evidence.

A Japanese official named Tatsukichi Hyomoto, the personal secretary to an MP, contacted the Yokotas out of the blue. He had been probing abductions by Pyongyang for a decade, and wanted to meet them as soon as possible. "We have information that your daughter is alive in North Korea."

The press and the public weren't always sympathetic. News reports referred to the abductions as "alleged". Several Japanese politicians believed the claims were South Korean disinformation spread to discredit the North.

 North Korea admitted to kidnapping 13 Japanese citizens. But just five were said to be alive.

The causes of death given for the other eight included drowning, choking on the fumes from a broken coal heater, a heart attack in a woman of 27, and two car accidents in a country where private citizens rarely own cars. Pyongyang claimed it could not provide their remains, as floods had washed away almost all their graves.

The dictator of Pyongyang said the abductions were designed to provide its spies with native-Japanese teachers, and false identities for missions in South Korea. Some victims were snatched from beaches, yes - and others lured from studies or travels in Europe.

He spoke of Megumi, the youngest named abductee by many years, saying her kidnappers had been tried and found guilty in 1998. One was executed, and the other died during a 15-year sentence, he said.

North Korea says Megumi Yokota hanged herself in a pine forest on 13 April 1994, on the grounds of a Pyongyang mental hospital where she was being treated for depression.

This is her second death date. The North initially claimed she had died on 13 March 1993, before declaring that an error.

As evidence, Pyongyang produced what it said was a hospital "death registry". It was a form with the words "Registry of Patient Entering and Leaving the Hospital," on the back of it. But "Entering and Leaving the Hospital," had been crossed out several times and the word "Death," written instead. Japan told North Korea it found the document highly suspect.

Another kidnapped Japanese woman, Fukie Chimura, later said that Megumi had moved in next-door to her and her husband in North Korea in June 1994, two months after Megumi's supposed death, and lived there for several months.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

englisc aspyrgendToday  07:30 pm JST

The questions over the DNA testing are valid, one thing Kishida actually has in his power is to have the testing done again by an experienced and independent body to clear up any question and during a degree of certainty to the grieving. Either it is their little girl and they have closure and can grieve for her normally or it is shown clearly it is not which embarrassment may just be enough to force NK’s hand a little on the issue.

Not possible according to this post:

blueToday  05:12 pm JST

(source Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megumi_Yokota#DNA_controversy )

An interview in the 3 February 2005 issue of Nature revealed that the DNA analysis on Megumi's remains had been performed by a member of the medical department of Teikyo University, Yoshii Tomio. Yoshii, it later transpired, was a relatively junior faculty member, of lecturer status, in a forensic department that had neither a professor nor even an assistant professor. He said that he had no previous experience in the analysis of cremated specimens, described his tests as inconclusive, and remarked that such samples were very easily contaminated by anyone coming in contact with them, like "stiff sponges that can absorb anything". The five tiny samples he had been given to work on (the largest of them 1.5 grams) had anyway been used up in his laboratory, so independent verification was thereafter impossible.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

resolve the issue 50 years later.... don't think so

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

With all due respect to these parents and their suffering…what do they honestly expect Kishida to do that previous administrations haven’t tried? Do they think there’s some magic bullet that the J Govt has been holding back for one reason or another and all they have to do is convince the PM to use it?

The sad fact of the matter is, Megumi is not coming home. Like the wives of soldiers who went MIA, I think the best thing they can do is accept that she’s gone, mourn, and spend what time they have left living as happily as they can.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

BUT,

What about the routine abductions of children in Japan by Japanese parents? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-asia-58057432

Japan and its justice system actively incite and reward parental abductions and parental alienation. Both from within the country, and from abroad to Japan, in complete violation of UN's Child Rights Convention ratified by Japan in 1995.

Numerous countries have denounced the Human Rights Violations perpetrated by Japan. Europe's parliament made de resolution in 2019 asking Japan to respect children's Human Rights and the engagements taken when ratifying the UN's treaty. Parents of abducted children have made a complaint at the Human Right Council of the United Nations, but this has been lingering for years.

Japan has been busy using its power to silence this sad reality and to support the abductors. Using all of its corruption power to make that matter disappear from media and pressuring the Child Right Committee to look away.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This issue will persist as long as it still has 'political' nuance and ceased being a 'humanitarian' issue long ago but is a still an effective foil to deflect, at least for domestic concern, from 'Imperial' Japan's massive 'kidnapping' of both offshore and native Nihonjin women to 'serve' in military brothels all over Asia. A suggestion above to bring the remaining relatives to Bukhan where they might see first hand and speak to people personally familiar with the abductees seems an excellent idea but would, maybe, take away an important political rationalization that still pays political benefit to its maintainers, however much pain it may arouse in the families. And the greatest and most grotesque lie is that these heartless politicos actually 'care'...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The fate of Megumi and the other abductees has always been a tragedy due to being separated from their loved ones against their will. If Megumi is alive (which is highly unlikely), the North Koreans will not let her go because she must have trained in Japanese language some highly placed North Korean spies at North Korean spy school who are now active in Japan. However, it is much more likely that Megumi and the others are no longer with us and the North Koreans are extremely callous toward the feelings of the Japanese families (which is also of no surprise considering how they treat their own citizens).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I just don't know what people expect any Japanese leader to do about this situation. If they offer to pay ransom, they will be derided for funding state terrorism. If they offer trade sanctions, other countries will try to block them for fear of funding state terrorism. Trump tried direct talks, and it got him nowhere, expect for a couple of "love letters"!

If anybody can explain what they feel would be the best way to get these people home, please educate me, but as far as I can see, Japan has nothing to negotiate with other than the tears of an elderly lady.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

i feel sorry abt old lady but to be honest-there no real interest to solve anything by any politician.

even if face is fairly new but rhetoric remains same- and no action as well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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