Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A delegation from the Japanese government has flown to North Korea to officially discuss the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by the Kim regime in the 1970's and '80's. The talks between Tokyo and Pyongyang mark a first, after about a decade of silence and bilateral sanctions. The two countries have no direct diplomatic relations. The visit, which began yesterday, will end on October 30.
North Korea admitted to having kidnapped 13 Japanese citizens to "train as spies" in Japan. Of this group, five people returned to Japan in 2002; Pyongyang maintains that the other eight have died, while Tokyo believes that this is not true. In addition, although there is no evidence, they suspect North Korean involvement in "hundreds" of other disappearances.
To open a channel of dialogue, in July 2014 the government of Shinzo Abe withdrew a
package of sanctions against the Stalinist
regime. The Japanese government
cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said: "We will try to use this visit to Pyongyang to speak forcefully to
the proper authorities that this
issue is a
priority for us. We want North
Korea to explain to what point
the investigation into our fellow citizens is at.
We want an honest
Tokyo is under pressure from public opinion, especially over some specific cases, like that of Megumi Yokota. The young man was kidnapped by North Korean agents as she left school in 1977 at the time she was 13 years old. According to Pyongyang, Megumi committed suicide in 1994 after marrying a South Korean citizen - who was also kidnapped - and with whom she had a daughter. To prove its "honesty", in 2004 the regime returned the girls' mortal remains, but DNA tests showed that they were not hers.