North Korea warning abduction talks on the rocks in Japan

April 3, 2015 2:01 pm

Despite ’s demand that reinvestigate
abduction cases swiftly and report the findings promptly and honestly,
Pyongyang has yet to present any findings, including concrete
information about what became of the victims, according to Abe.

“We intend to take every measure to achieve the result of
bringing back all the abductees,” Abe told the meeting, the start of
which was open to the media.
BEIJING – Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe on Friday slammed a notification from North Korea the
previous day that it might suspend bilateral negotiations on abduction
issue.

“North Korea filed a protest (with Japan) yesterday. We
cannot accept it at all,” Abe said in a meeting with the abductees’
relatives. “We will approach (the abduction issue) with a firm stance.”

The meeting came a day after North Korea notified Japan
through diplomatic channels in Beijing that bilateral talks are facing
difficulties. North Korea also criticized Japan for condemning its human
rights record.

Pyongyang blamed Japan for “internationalizing” the issue at
the United Nations, which involves Japanese nationals its agents
abducted in the 1970s and 1980s, and said had undermined trust between
the two countries.

North Korea also accused the Japanese police of “illegally”
raiding the home of the head of the General Association of Korean
Residents, a pro-Pyongyang group also known as Chongryon, in Tokyo late
last month, the official Korean Central Agency said.

“Under such circumstances, it is becoming difficult to carry out negotiations between the two governments,” KCNA said.

Despite Japan’s demand that North Korea reinvestigate
abduction cases swiftly and report the findings promptly and honestly,
Pyongyang has yet to present any findings, including concrete
information about what became of the victims, according to Abe.

“We intend to take every measure to achieve the result of
bringing back all the abductees,” Abe told the meeting, the start of
which was open to the media.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Foreign Minister
Fumio Kishida said Japan has lodged a protest with the North over its
statement and conveyed Japan’s position.

Abe said Japan will continue to negotiate with North Korea
on the abduction issue by maintaining the principles of “dialogue and
pressure” and “action by action” toward its goal of bringing each on
back to Japan.

The issue remains a stumbling block for normalizing ties between the two nations, which have no diplomatic relations.

Shigeo Iizuka, head of a group representing the families of
Japanese taken by North Korea, called on Abe on Friday to place the
highest priority on their return.

“Honestly speaking to you, prime minister, we cannot
compromise on the return of the abductees,” Iizuka told Abe and other
government officials at the outset of their meeting at the prime
minister’s office. “We only hope for the certain return of the people
who were abducted to North Korea. You don’t have to hasten to receive a
report (on the investigation) from North Korea.”

Iizuka said the victims in North Korea and their families
here who are awaiting their return have already reached their “physical
and mental limits.”

After resuming official talks for the first time since
November 2012, Japan and North Korea struck a deal in Stockholm last May
on guiding principles for their negotiations.

Among other points, North Korea promised to conduct a
comprehensive survey of all Japanese in the country, including those
abducted in the 1970s and 1980s, in exchange for Tokyo lifting some of
its unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang.

In early July, Japan lifted some of those sanctions.
However, Pyongyang failed to meet its promise of providing an initial
report on the findings of the probe by early last autumn.

On March 26, police searched the Tokyo home of Ho Jong Man,
the head of Chongryon, as well as other locations in connection with
alleged illegal imports of mushrooms from North Korea.

Japanese officials said the search was independently conducted by the police and unrelated to the talks.

In the absence of diplomatic ties, Chongryon has functioned
as North Korea’s de facto embassy in Japan for many decades. Ho is also a
member of North Korea’s top legislature.

Japanese and North Korean officials have been continuing behind-the-scenes negotiations.

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