Abe Sees No Abduction Issue Breakthrough amid Virus Crisis


Tokyo, July 27 (Jiji Press)--Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s major policy goal of resolving the issue of Japanese citizens abducted to North Korea decades ago appears more out of reach as the novel coronavirus pandemic is further stalling already-deadlocked diplomatic efforts over the matter.

The aging of abductees’ family members, exemplified by the recent death of Shigeru Yokota, the father of Megumi Yokota, who was kidnapped by the reclusive nation in 1977 at the age of 13, is raising fears that the issue may fall out of the spotlight as the public focuses on the coronavirus crisis.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga apologized for a lack of progress when he met with members of an association of prefectural governors dedicated to resolving the abduction issue on Tuesday last week. “I am extremely sorry that we have been unable to bring back even a single abduction victim since five victims returned to Japan in (October) 2002,” he said.

“Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and I are putting all of our efforts in it,” the top government spokesman added. The return of the five abductees came after a historic meeting in September 2002 in Pyongyang between then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and then North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Riding the wave of the momentum for reconciliation created by meetings between U.S. President Donald Trump and current North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June 2018 and February 2019, Abe called on Kim to hold an unconditional meeting with him as the Japanese leader aimed to break the stalemate over the abduction issue.

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Jiji Press