北朝鮮拉致問題 国際連携強め事態を打開せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Feb. 3, 2013)
Stronger intl ties key to solve issue of abductions by N. Korea
北朝鮮拉致問題 国際連携強め事態を打開せよ(2月2日付・読売社説)

How can the government make a substantial breakthrough on the issue of abductions by North Korea? The government is now under pressure to have a well-prepared strategy on the issue.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his intention to solve the issue in the first meeting of his second administration's government Headquarters for the Abduction Issue. All Cabinet ministers are members of the headquarters.
"I would like to solve the problem while I am the supreme officer on the issue," Abe said at the meeting. The government plans to make all-out efforts for the immediate return of all abduction victims, uncover the truth about the abductions and extradite the abductors.

The administration also newly established the Liaison Council of Government and Ruling and Opposition Parties Institutions for Measures against Abduction Issue.

The abduction of Japanese citizens is a grave crime against national sovereignty and the lives and safety of people. Regardless of their political affiliations, all lawmakers must work together to rescue the victims. We praise the government's efforts in pursuing this issue in such a dedicated manner.


U.N. human rights panel eyed

As an immediate task, Abe said the government will work to establish an investigation committee on human rights issues in North Korea at a March meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council. He revealed the government has begun discussions with relevant countries on the issue.

The United Nations has adopted resolutions to express concern over abductions and serious human rights violations against political prisoners, among others in recent years. They were adopted after initiation by Japan and the European Union, but North Korea has ignored them.

Even if such an investigation committee was established, North Korea would refuse to cooperate. However, a thorough investigation by experts will surely boost the international pressure against North Korea.

Under the administration of Kim Jong Un, an official bilateral dialogue between the Japanese and North Korean governments occurred in November last year for the first time in four years. The Japanese side strongly demanded that North Korea take Japan's calls on the abduction issue seriously and respond to them.

Without dialogue, it is impossible to find a way to solve the problem. The government needs to advance aggressive diplomacy toward reopening of bilateral talks specifically on the abduction issue.

Out of 17 abduction victims officially recognized by the government, only five of them ever came back to Japan. In addition to the officially recognized abductees, there are hundreds of "missing Japanese probably related to North Korea," who went missing in cases that cannot be ruled out as abductions by North Korea.

Members of abductees' families are elderly and complain of the hellish suffering they have to endure. The government should waste no time in dealing with this issue.


Dialogue and pressure

In December last year North Korea went ahead with launching a long-range ballistic missile despite repeated warnings by the international community. Reacting against the U.N. Security Council's resolution for beefed up sanctions, the country even indicated the possibility of conducting its third nuclear test. This behavior cannot be overlooked.

If North Korea actually conducted another nuclear test, Japan should closely cooperate with the United States and South Korea, as well as China, to further toughen sanctions against the reclusive country.

The Abe administration should advance its North Korea policy, while firmly maintaining the position of "dialogue and pressure."

For normalizing Japan-North Korea relations, together with reaching a solution to the nuclear and missile problems, solving the abduction issue is essential. Concrete measures to make North Korea understand this should be considered with the whole country as a united team in an "all-Japan" manner.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 2, 2013)
(2013年2月2日01時24分  読売新聞)

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