Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Tsutomu Nishioka

【#687(Special)】Kim Jong Un Transferring Power to Sister

Tsutomu Nishioka / 2020.06.11 (Thu)

June 8, 2020

Shigeru Yokota, the father of Megumi Yokota abducted by North Korea, has passed away. I have been fighting together with him since 1997 to rescue his daughter and other abductees. I felt as if my fellow soldier had been shot to death by an enemy bullet when advancing beside me.

Yokota fought against North Korean lies

Mr. Yokota’s struggle was to appeal to public to break through lies. In 1997, he decided to publish his and his daughter’s real names for appealing to public while such action was feared to lead North Korea to harm her. In five years, his courage broke through North Korea’s propaganda that had denied the abduction and had dominated Japan, winning then North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s apology for the abduction.

However, Pyongyang then made up a new lie that North Korea abducted only 13 Japanese citizens including eight who had died already and claimed that the abduction issue was resolved with the five survivors allowed to return to Japan. Even within Japan, some people argued that Japan should accept the deaths and normalize relations with North Korea.

A mild-mannered gentleman usually refrained from expressing anger in public, Mr. Yokota publicly got outraged twice – in September 2002 when a senior Foreign Ministry official just after his return home from North Korea told him that the deaths of the eight including Megumi had not been confirmed, on the day after the Japanese government notified the families of the abductees of the alleged deaths without confirmation, and in 2004 when what North Korea provided as the remains of Megumi turned out to be those of some other person. Outrage against lies served as the driving force of his struggle.

Kim Yo Jong issuing directives for her brother

Meanwhile, we must know the enemy to win. Power has been being transferred from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to his sister Kim Yo Jong while concerns about his health have grown serious amidst deepening economic difficulties attributable to United Nations economic sanctions and border closures to address the novel coronavirus outbreak. In a statement on June 4, Kim Yo Jong as the first vice director of the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP) Central Committee harshly criticized North Korean defectors for sending propaganda leaflets concealed in balloons to the North and the South Korean government for tacitly approving such action, threatening to close the Inter-Korean Liaison Office and abolish the North-South military agreement. On June 5, the Central Committee’s United Front Department, a spy agency, released a spokesman’s statement unveiling that Kim Yo Jong on the same day issued a directive calling for starting to discuss how to implement the measures provided in her statement.

Under North Korea’s one-man dictatorial system, Kim Jong Un alone should be able to issue directives. The announcement that Kim Yo Jong issued a directive to consider abolishing an agreement between Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae In indicates that Kim Yo Jong’s power is as strong as that of her brother. Kim Yo Jong is said to have signed a Top Ratification Document recently in place of Kim Jong Un. Top means the top leader. Without the top ratification, any KWP, military or government project cannot be implemented. Writers and artists were reportedly ordered in late May to describe Kim Yo Jong as a KWP center in their works.

To what extent does Kim Yo Jong understand the abduction issue? How does she think about the improvement of relations with Japan? Where are Megumi Yokota and other abductees detained now? The Japanese government should get information on answers to these questions before fighting against the Kim regime.

Tsutomu Nishioka is a senior fellow and a Planning Committee member at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and visiting professor at Reitaku University. He covers South and North Koreas.