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2010年7月22日 (木)

金元工作員来日 政府は「北」に拉致協議を促せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 22, 2010)
Nudge North Korea on abduction talks
金元工作員来日 政府は「北」に拉致協議を促せ(7月21日付・読売社説)

Kim Hyon Hui, a former North Korean agent responsible for the fatal 1987 bombing of a Korean Air passenger jet, has arrived in Japan. During her stay through Friday, Kim is scheduled to meet the families of several Japanese abducted decades ago by North Korean agents.

The Japanese government asked the South Korean government to allow Kim--who now lives in the South--to visit Japan to "generate resentment toward the abductions and prick public awareness of the issue." The visit comes against the backdrop of South Korean President Lee Myung Bak's hard-line stance against North Korea.

As part of her special spy training, Kim received lessons she said were "designed to transform her into a perfect Japanese" between 1981 and 1983 in North Korea. Kim's instructor was Yaeko Taguchi, who was abducted from Tokyo in 1978.

During questioning by Japanese and South Korean authorities, and in her autobiography, Kim gave detailed accounts on the lead-up to and execution of the KAL bombing. In March last year, she met with Taguchi's relatives in Busan, South Korea.


Little room for optimism

Kim later told Japanese officials she had met with Megumi Yokota, a Japanese abducted by Pyongyang's agents from Niigata in 1977.
We do not hold much hope that Kim will provide any new information that might shed light on the fate of the abductees.

Nevertheless, we hope Kim will sincerely engage with abductees' family members, who are desperate for any crumb of information about how their loved ones lived after being snatched away.

The South Korean government has concluded a torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine sank a South Korean Navy ship in March. This incident encapsulates just how North Korea's nature as a terrorist state has not changed one jot.

North Korea has promised it would reinvestigate the fate of Japanese abductees that Tokyo believes could still be alive. However, Pyongyang has made no tangible progress on the reinvestigation, so bilateral negotiations on the issue have been locked in a stalemate for nearly two years.

Kim's visit to Japan is partly intended to demonstrate that the Democratic Party of Japan-led government is seriously tackling the abduction issue. However, we believe it is even more important to bring to light the entire picture of the abductions by North Korean agents and step up pressure on Pyongyang to return the abductees to Japan.


Political decision

Kim's visit has not been without its problems.

Firstly, Kim is a former death row inmate. She was sentenced to death in South Korea in 1989 for her role in the airliner bombing, but was freed by a presidential pardon in 1990.

From Japan's perspective, Kim is a suspect in a case involving a forged official document. She allegedly traveled with a fake Japanese passport under the name of Mayumi Hachiya in the airliner bombing.

The Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law bars foreign nationals who have been sentenced to one year or more in jail from entering Japan, with political prisoners as exceptions.

Justice Minister Keiko Chiba issued a special permit for Kim to enter Japan in line with a special provision under the immigration law.

Japanese police would normally be expected to question Kim as a suspect, but they plan to forgo questioning her this time.

The government may have made a political decision it believes best serves the national interest. But we think the government should give the public a detailed explanation of the reasoning behind its decision.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 21, 2010)
(2010年7月21日01時36分  読売新聞)


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