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Tsutomu Nishioka

【#534(Special)】Oppose a Japan-N. Korea Joint Probe into Abduction

Tsutomu Nishioka / 2018.08.09 (Thu)

August 6, 2018

     Even since North Korea’s abduction of Japanese citizens was taken up at the U.S.-North Korea summit in June, North Korea’s official media have continued to assert the abduction issue as having been resolved. However, the careful interpretation of such assertions shows North Korea’s real intention to negotiate with Japan to get massive compensation from Japan for its past colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
     Pyongyang has already started preparations for such negotiations. The North Koreans understand that they cannot get any money from Japan if no action is taken on the abduction issue. However, their intelligence authorities are reluctant to return Megumi Yokota and other Japanese abductees knowing massive secrets and have stepped up spy operations in Japan.

Pro-Pyongyang maneuver in Japan
     In the meantime, pro-Pyongyang forces that had remained silent in Japan have launched public actions. On June 21, a league of parliamentarians for promoting the normalization of relations between Japan and North Korea held a general meeting at a diet members’ office building in Tokyo, after remaining inactive since 2011. Some 40 lawmakers from ruling and opposition parties participated in the meeting, including an influential member of House of Representatives Shigeru Ishiba who is set to run in a presidential election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in September. The league has grown active since then, adopting a resolution calling for an early Japan-North Korea summit and sending it to the Prime Minister’s Office on July 27.
     The league’s leader and a former Deputy House Speaker Seishiro Eto is a representative pro-Pyongyang lawmaker who in the past asserted Japan should resolve the abduction issue after normalizing relations with North Korea. Its deputy secretary-general is Katsuei Hirasawa who resigned as director-general of the Parliamentarian League for Early Repatriation of Japanese Citizens Kidnapped by North Korea after coming under fire from family members of the abductees and their supporting group for diffusing a North Korean claim that Megumi Yokota and other abductees had been dead.
     Delivering speeches at the June 21 general meeting were Kim Ji Young, Pyongyang Bureau Chief of The Choson Sinbo newspaper, an organ of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, and Hitoshi Tanaka, a former deputy foreign minister of Japan. Kim insisted the abduction issue as having been resolved. From which country were these lawmakers listening attentively to such assertion?
     Tanaka proposed to establish a liaison office in Pyongyang for a Japan-North Korea joint investigation to resolve the abduction issue. Tanaka continues to make the same proposal through a monthly magazine and other media. Ishiba also mentioned a similar proposal on television on July 5. Such proposals are very risky. A Japan-North Korea joint investigation through a liaison office in Pyongyang could end up as the confirmation of abductees’ deaths.
     What would be the investigation in North Korea? Will it include a search for surviving abductees? Any joint investigation should fail to find abductees that North Korea has decided to hide. Japanese participants in such joint investigation may only be briefed on how abductees died and taken to alleged sites of their deaths.

Deceptive proposal for joint investigation
     Tanaka and others proposing the joint investigation and the liaison office are attempting to resolve the abduction issue through Japan’s acceptance of a 2002 North Korean investigation report concluding eight Japanese abductees including Yokota as having died. To satisfy Japanese public opinion, they plan to send Japanese police and other investigators to North Korea for the joint investigation that would last for a long term during which they would seek to normalize bilateral relations.
     The Abe government’s stance is that abductees are alive in the absence of any evidence confirming their deaths. Massive information indicates their survival. We must strongly oppose the joint investigation or Pyongyang liaison office proposal that reverses the premise that all abductees are alive.

Tsutomu Nishioka is a member of the Planning Committee at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and Visiting Professor at Reitaku University.