World Bulletin/News Desk
Japan has given North Korea a list of hundreds of its citizens it considers possible abductees by the reclusive nation, Tokyo’s chief cabinet secretary said Sunday – as South Korea faces its own diplomatic challenges with both countries.
Yoshihide Suga announced the move on television just over a week after North Korea agreed to reinvestigate what happened to Japanese nationals who were abducted decades ago.
While the North did admit in 2002 to having abducted 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s, Suga said that a list of around 470 names - including possible cases - had been “handed to North Korea through a diplomatic channel.”
The Japanese nationals reportedly taught Japanese to North Korean agents and coached them in how to pass themselves off as Japanese.
Suga also revealed Sunday that the Japanese government will send officials to North Korea to check on any report it produces following its promised reinvestigation – in return for lifting selected sanctions and providing humanitarian aid.
Depending on the outcome, the chief cabinet secretary did not rule out a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to North Korea - and insisted that talks would continue regardless of any nuclear tests or missile launches that the North may carry out.
Japan’s unilateral move in its deal with North Korea in late May appeared to contradict previous discussions with its allies South Korea and the U.S. stressing the importance of sharing intelligence. Last week, the defense chiefs of the trilateral alliance had strengthened military ties on the sidelines of the 13th Asia Security Summit.
On Saturday, South Korea’s new national security adviser - Kim Kwan-jin - had been preparing his country’s forces to “relentlessly retaliate against the enemy and completely make it surrender in case of the enemy's provocation.”
While tensions continue to grow between the Koreas following a series of threats by both sides and the exchange of artillery fire this year, relations between the South and Japan also remain thorny.
On the same day that Yoshihide Suga made his television appearance, a 91-year-old South Korean woman who had been forced into sexual slavery by Japan during World War II passed away – stirring anti-Tokyo sentiment in the South.
Local social media were flooded with calls for Japan to offer direct compensation and apologies to the victims – among whom only 54 known survivors remain.
Up to 200,000 women, predominantly from Korea and China, are estimated to have been coerced into serving as so-called "comfort women."
With time feared to be running out, Seoul and Tokyo held a second round of talks on the issue last month.
South Korea also launched a foundation Sunday to support forced laborers under Japanese rule between 1910 and 1945 along with their families – which may number in the millions.
Tokyo and the relevant companies claim that all issues relating to monetary compensation were resolved by a treaty in 1965.Last Mod: 08 Haziran 2014, 17:19