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2014年6月 1日 (日)

拉致再調査 北朝鮮は誠実に約束を果たせ

The Yomiuri Shimbun 7:21 pm, May 31, 2014
Govt must ensure North Korea follows through on promises
拉致再調査 北朝鮮は誠実に約束を果たせ

North Korea has promised to once more fully investigate the fate of Japanese nationals abducted by its agents, as well as suspected abductees—an opportunity Japan must seize to resolve this long-standing issue.

The agreement, based on Japan-North Korea talks in Stockholm held from Monday to Wednesday, clearly states that Pyongyang will conduct reinvestigations “comprehensively and fully.” In addition to the 12 abduction victims who have not returned to Japan, North Korea agreed to have the reinvestigations also cover about 470 Japanese designated as suspected abductees.

According to the written agreement, North Korea will establish a special investigative committee with the authority to probe all entities in the nation and report its findings to Japan, as needed. “If Japanese are found alive, North Korea will report to Japan and then allow them to return home,” it states.

“We were finally able to open the door...for negotiations to rescue abduction victims,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. Meanwhile, North Korea is apparently hoping to secure economic assistance from Japan by withdrawing its previous stance that the abduction issues have been resolved.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has indicated that the government will urge North Korea to release the results of the reinvestigations within one year.

In the past, however, ashes that Pyongyang returned, claiming they belonged to abductee Megumi Yokota, were later proved to belong to a different person through analysis by Japanese experts. To prevent Pyongyang from repeating such a disingenuous action, it is essential for the Foreign Ministry and police authorities to work hand-in-hand to monitor what North Korea is doing and offer their guidance on what steps North Korea should take.

When North Korea restarts the probes, the Japanese government will partially lift its unilateral sanctions, including a ban on the entry of North Korean-registered ships. Also, Tokyo will consider providing humanitarian aid at an “appropriate time,” according to the agreement.

Some question easing

Some people in Japan have questioned whether it was wise to agree to lift some sanctions in return for only the reinvestigations. But it is true that North Korea’s concessions would have been difficult to obtain without a promise to ease sanctions.

The government should see what specific developments are being made in connection with the reinvestigations before gradually and carefully lifting the sanctions. Humanitarian assistance should be given only when major results are achieved.

North Korea expressed concern over the public auction of the building and land where the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryon, has been headquartered and asked Japan to take steps that would benefit the association. The Japanese government did not comply with the request, a matter of course given that the problem lies with Chongryon, which failed to repay a massive loan.

North Korea apparently aims to escape its international isolation by initiating moves to improve ties with Japan. Pyongyang has seen its relations with Beijing chill further in recent months, and its talks with Washington and Seoul have been suspended for some time.

It is important that Japan does not relent in its efforts with the United States and South Korea to put pressure on North Korea and that it maintains cooperative ties with the two nations by closely sharing information with them.

North Korea has continued its military provocations with its nuclear and missile development. Japan should uphold its policy of seeking a comprehensive solution that settles not only abduction issues, but also the nuclear and missile problem.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 31, 2014)


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