Relatives of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea decades ago have appealed for international cooperation to bring their loved ones back home.
They took part in an online UN symposium on the abduction issue on Thursday. The event was jointly held by Japan, the United States, Australia and the European Union.
Yokota Takuya, a younger brother of abductee Yokota Megumi, called for international efforts to resolve the issue.
Yokota, who heads a group of the relatives, questioned whether the global community is putting enough pressure on North Korea to settle the issue. He urged North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to return all remaining abductees to Japan immediately.
Iizuka Koichiro, the son of abductee Taguchi Yaeko, said that if the abductees are returned, the relatives will not oppose moves to normalize relations between Japan and North Korea, nor ask the returnees to divulge secrets. He said all the relatives want is to lead quiet lives as families.
Iizuka noted that some relatives, such as Taguchi’s older brother Iizuka Shigeo, have died before being reunited with their loved ones. He stressed that the abduction issue must be resolved as soon as possible.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu, whose responsibilities include the abductions issue, also attended the symposium. He emphasized that no time should be wasted to resolve the issue as both the abductees and their relatives are aging.
Matsuno said the government will do everything it can to bring all remaining abductees back to Japan as soon as possible. He also called for greater international efforts to settle the matter.
Matsuno noted that at the Japan-US summit last month, Prime Minister Kishida Fumio won the support of President Joe Biden for an immediate resolution to the issue.
The Japanese government says at least 17 citizens were abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 80s. Five returned in 2002, but the other 12 remain unaccounted for.