Japan’s PM Says He Will Visit North Korea to Discuss Kidnappings

Posted October 8th, 2011 at 1:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Japan's prime minister says he plans to visit North Korea to try to deal with the issue of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea over the past few decades.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda met Saturday with the relatives of Japanese nationals that North Korea has admitted to kidnapping. Pyongyang says those kidnap victims have since died, but has not produced proof.

Mr. Noda told the families that he considers this an urgent matter and will go to North Korea if that would lead to progress. He said he wants to do his utmost to get those who may still be alive back to their families in Japan. He called the effort “a race against time,” as the families of those kidnap victims are aging.

In 2002, then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi traveled to North Korea to address the issue with Pyongyang. North Korea admitted kidnapping 13 Japanese citizens and allowed five of them to return home the following month.

Activists contend that North Korea, mainly in the 1970s and 1980s, abducted dozens of Japanese nationals, forcing some to teach Japanese language and culture to North Korean spies. Rights groups say some of the older abductees were apparently killed so North Korean agents could assume their identities.