The Yomiuri Shimbun
Govt needs to calmly deal with N. Korea’s halt to abduction probe
North Korea’s latest act is a despicable attempt to pressure our nation. The Japanese government should not be upset by this, and must make persistent efforts to resolve the issue of the Japanese nationals abducted by that country.
North Korea has announced it will completely halt a renewed investigation it launched regarding the fate of Japanese abductees and others in July 2014. It also said it would dissolve the Special Investigation Committee.
According to an announcement by North Korea, the latest move has been taken as a response to the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strengthening its unilateral sanctions on the country. In the same announcement, North Korea also threatened Japan that it will “continue strong countermeasures to Japan’s provocative acts of hostility.”
North Korea also asserts that Japan’s move to strengthen its sanctions was tantamount to “nullifying” the Stockholm agreement reached in May 2014 to reinvestigate. Japan’s position is that it has no intention to abrogate the accord.
Under the agreement, Japan lifted part of the sanctions it imposed on North Korea in exchange for Pyongyang’s renewed investigation into the fate of the Japanese nationals in question. They include the 12 people who have been acknowledged by the Japanese government as abductees, but have not yet returned to Japan, as well as other Japanese missing and thought have been abducted by North Korean agents.
Japan’s action to reinforce sanctions was in response to North Korea’s recent move to conduct a nuclear test and launch a ballistic missile, thereby threatening regional security. North Korea’s accusations against our nation are absurd.
It should be noted, first of all, that North Korea has put off reporting the pertinent findings of its probe for more than 1½ years, including what has become of those who were abducted. Although North Korea told Japan that it “has set up four subcommittees” on the committee, it is doubtful whether the country has actually seriously renewed its investigations into the abductions.
World must step up pressure
North Korea’s conduct has been particularly hard on the abductees’ families, who had pinned their hopes on the renewed probe.
Shutting its eyes to its own atrocities, Pyongyang has blamed the whole problem on Japan. Its assertions are totally unacceptable.
The Japanese government has lodged a protest with North Korea through diplomatic channels. Katsunobu Kato, the minister in charge of the abduction issue, has emphasized that he wants to “do [his] utmost to get North Korea to take specific actions, through dialogue and pressure and under the principle of action for action.” He had every reason to strongly demand Pyongyang continue its reinvestigation into the abduction issue.
North Korea has sought to gain greater rewards for fewer concessions by providing various pieces of scattered information. This approach is the country’s usual ploy. The Japanese government should never be cajoled into following North Korea’s lead on bilateral negotiations.
North Korea’s announcement on its suspension of the renewed probe may also be viewed as an attempt to disrupt Japan’s cooperative ties with the United States and South Korea by focusing on a problem unique to our nation.
Japan’s basic policy is to seek a comprehensive solution to both the abduction issue and North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile development. This is the time for Japan to cooperate with the international community to step up pressure on North Korea to rein in its dangerous acts of provocation.
South Korea has imposed a unilateral sanction on the North by shutting down operations at the Kaesong industrial complex, an inter-Korea cooperative project. The United States is also set to strengthen its economic sanctions on North Korea.
As in the past, it is important for Japan, the United States and South Korea to closely cooperate with each other. The emphasis should be put on ensuring that the U.N. Security Council soon adopts additional stern sanctions on North Korea.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 14, 2016)