Abe Vows to Work with Washington to Resolve N. Korea Abductions (News)


Tokyo, April 23 (Jiji Press)—Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzō on Sunday marked the fortieth year since the disappearance of Yokota Megumi, a schoolgirl from Niigata Prefecture who became the high-profile face of the unresolved issue of North Korean abductions of Japanese citizens.

The prime minister attended a national gathering of family members of people suspected of having been abducted by Pyongyang's agents and taken to North Korea and told them that his government is determined to resolve the issue of North Korea's abductions of Japanese citizens in cooperation with the United States. Japan will "work together with the United States and the international community to pressure North Korea to act to resolve the issue at an early date," Abe said.

A photo of Yokota Megumi, 13, taken about a month before her abduction in 1977 (left) and a photo released in 2012 of a woman thought to be Yokota at around age 20, taken in North Korea. (© Jiji)

In 2002, diplomatic efforts by Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichirō secured the return to Japan of five abduction victims. Many others remain unaccounted for, and the aging of their family members in Japan brings concerns that they may not live long enough to be reunited with their missing relatives.

At the gathering in Tokyo, attended by some 1,000 family members and their supporters, Prime Minister Abe noted the lack of progress on the issue during the past 15 years. North Korea is not serious about the abduction issue while repeatedly conducting nuclear and missile tests, he said, noting that this is "utterly unacceptable."

Abe said resolving the abduction issue is his cabinet's top priority.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd. Content edited by the Nippon.com editorial team.]

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