Japanese Abductees Support Group Pledges to Not Support Sanctions if North Korea Releases Those Held

Families and supporters of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s have said they will not oppose recent plans to lift sanctions on the hermit kingdom, as long as their family members are returned at long last while they are still alive.

Many of those who have petitioned for the abductees to be released are their children or immediate family, who are now mostly fully grown middle-aged adults or elderly. If they are not released, the group representatives said they will “vehemently demand tougher sanctions” on NK.

North Korea abducted at least over a dozen Japanese citizens in a period of 6 years, from 1977 to 1983, the majority of whom they say are now dead. “At the first Japan-North Korea summit meeting held on September 17, 2002, Kim Jong-Il, then Chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea, finally admitted, after years of denial, that the abductions of Japanese citizens took place and apologized. He also stated that among 13 abductees, four were alive, eight were dead and for one, entrance into North Korea could not be confirmed” Via MOFA JP. The number of those abducted is claimed by the group in Japan to be larger than officially confirmed by Japan’s government, which is only 19 citizens.

The leader of North Korea’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, said the Japanese PM’s planned visit to Pyongyang soon would go smoothly if they didn’t bring up the abductions issue, which she says was settled in the 70s and 80s.

“The victims’ families said Sunday such a claim is unacceptable. Takuya Yokota heads the group of families and told a press conference, “It is really difficult to maintain calm and try to have a dialogue.”

But he also said, “I want to see Megumi, and I want my mother to be reunited. All the families feel the same way, and for that reason, we will compromise where we have to,” he said, referring to his sister, who was kidnapped in 1977 by North Korean agents at age 13.

Their mother, Sakie, who turned 88 this month, also attended the meeting. “I don’t feel anxious about getting older. I believe she (Megumi) is doing well. I hope she has somehow survived.”” – Japan Today