Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

  • HOME
  • Speaking Out
  • 【#250】Rescue of Abductees in North Korea Approaches Critical Stage
Tsutomu Nishioka

【#250】Rescue of Abductees in North Korea Approaches Critical Stage

Tsutomu Nishioka / 2014.06.12 (Thu)

June 9, 2014

     Japan and North Korea agreed in late May to reinvestigate Japanese abductees in North Korea. Does this mean that North Korea's Kim Jong-un regime has decided to return Megumi Yokota and others claimed by Pyongyang as dead in 2002? There is no sign of such decision at present. In this sense, the latest Japan-North Korea agreement on reinvestigation into Japanese abductees indicates a big bet for Japan.
     We welcome the Japan-North Korea agreement as creating a framework in which North Korea will conduct an investigation on its own for Japan's confirmation, instead of any joint investigation. North Korea that has committed abduction is required to satisfy us with investigation results. Japan should hold fast to the basic policy of asking North Korea repeatedly to reinvestigate the abduction of Japanese citizens and refraining from lifting sanctions on North Korea unless satisfactory results are reported. Such policy is the only path to solving the abduction issue.
     But North Korea could kill live Japanese abductees and provide Japan with their bones. Japan must take all possible actions to prevent such development. Japan's rescue of abductees in North Korea has reached a critical stage.

N. Korea hopes to reconstruct Chongryon and get hard currencies
     North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered his government in January to (1) reconstruct the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, known as Chongryon, and (2) contact Japan to that end. Chongryon, which had remitted 180 billion to 200 billion yen annually to North Korea in the early 1990s (according to Japan's Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office), has suspended such remittance as a result of tougher sanction enforcement by the first Shinzo Abe administration. The Chongryon is now required to soon vacate its head office in Tokyo that has been auctioned.
     On the occasion of the latest Japan-North Korea agreement, the present Abe administration indicated that Japan can lift North Korean sanctions other than those it has imposed in line with United Nations Security Council resolutions against Pyongyang's nuclear missile development. This means that Japan uses the abduction as its unique problem for starting negotiations with North Korea and gives priority to rescuing the abductees, while maintaining the policy of declining to normalize relations with and provide massive financial aid to North Korea unless the nuclear missile problem is resolved.
     North Korea for its part has acknowledged the Japanese position and hopes to reconstruct Chongryon for its resumption of more than 100 billion yen in annual remittance and earn massive hard currencies in return for “cost” for sending back to Japan the remains of Japanese who died in North Korea soon after World War II.

Japan holds information on surviving abductees
     It is uncertain what North Korea would provide as a result of the reinvestigation. The North can be expected to provide false bones of abductees again. Japan's sophisticated technology can extract DNA even from cremated bones, as indicated by the past false bone incident. In fact, the technology can use bones even for identifying broad periods of deaths. North Korea has gotten aware of such Japanese technology and has tried to collect information on Japan's DNA identification ability. I have been very tense since I recently heard that North Koreans had conducted tests in a European country to determine cremation temperatures that could make it impossible for the Japanese technology to identify periods of deaths even if they still allow the technology to identify DNA.
     Japan's DNA identification technology is the most advanced in the world. If the Japanese technology identifies a period of death as 2002 or later for bones of an abductee claimed by North Korea as having died in 1994, the identification may become an evidence of North Korea's killing of the abductee. In such event, Japan-North Korea relations would plunge into the worst ever crisis. We must use all available communication channels to send a message that Japan has secure information about the survival of the eight Japanese abductees claimed by North Korea as dead and that if Pyongyang provides the bones of any of them, Japan will immediately publish the information even before DNA identification and denounce North Korea.

Tsutomu Nishioka is Planning Committee Member, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, and Professor at Tokyo Christian University.