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INTERNATIONAL > East Asia & Pacific

Editorial: Let the 3 U.S. citizens’ release be guiding light for solution to abduction issue

Three U.S. citizens who were detained by North Korea have been released. They were met by President Donald Trump at the Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington with a smile and handshake.


How did the families of the Japanese abduction victims feel when they witnessed this? Megumi Yokota and the other abductees were taken by force by North Korean state organs many, many years ago.


The Japanese government must bring back the abduction victims. We hope that it will learn from the U.S.’s negotiations for the release of the three Americans ahead of the U.S.-DPRK summit to realize the abductees’ repatriation.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed at his teleconference with Trump that the release of these U.S. citizens was a “great achievement” and that he “welcomes North Korea’s positive attitude.”


Megumi’s mother, Sakie, said: “If the three Americans could be released, there is no reason why the Japanese abduction victims, who had done nothing wrong, cannot also be freed.”


Why was the U.S. able to achieve their release? This was the result of the policies of “dialogue and pressure” and “action for action.” Dialogue for the sake of dialogue is meaningless, and now is the time to persist in applying pressure thoroughly. The release of the three Americans is proof that Workers’ Party of Korea Chairman Kim Jong Un bowed to pressure.


North Korea has been hinting at the possibility of holding a Japan-DPRK summit. This is probably out of its desire to obtain massive economic assistance from Japan.


However, unless concrete progress is made in the abduction issue, Japan must not agree to negotiate. It must stand firm on its principles in disregard of the irresponsible voices of concern about Japan being “left behind.”


Trump has shown a profound understanding of the abduction issue. The declaration issued after the Japan-China-ROK summit stated that “the leaders of China and South Korea hope for a solution to the abduction issue as soon as possible.” While the language is weak, it is of great significance that “abduction” was written into this document.


North Korea probably wants to do away with its human rights issues by releasing the three Americans, separating the abduction issue. Japan must not tolerate such maneuvering.


Japan will obtain the international community’s cooperation and continue to apply pressure through sanctions. It will not move unless the abduction issue is resolved. The only way to bring back the abductees is to make North Korea understand this position.

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