EDITORIAL: After year of futility, Japan needs new game plan for abduction talks with N. Korea - AJW by The Asahi Shimbun
One year has passed since North Korea set up a special committee to carry out a fresh investigation into the fate of Japanese citizens abducted by the country decades ago.
Last autumn, North Korea said it would try to compile a report on the reinvestigation in a target timeframe of about one year.
On July 2, however, Pyongyang told the Japanese government that it will “take awhile” before it can release the report.
It is hard to believe that North Korea is making sincere efforts. The abductions are an egregious violation of human rights that can never be pardoned. We cannot help but feel strong indignation.
The regime in Pyongyang should realize that there is no way it can improve its relations with Japan other than by swiftly producing a convincing report on the probe.
There have been many baffling developments concerning the issue during the past year.
In May last year, after the announcement of an agreement between Tokyo and Pyongyang about the steps toward establishing formal diplomatic relations between the two countries, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan and North Korea “shared the recognition that the first report on the reinvestigation would be made sometime between the end of summer and around early autumn” last year.
Instead of the expected report, however, Pyongyang only informed Tokyo of a delay in the work, saying that the probe was “still in an early stage.”
On July 3, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe admitted that there had been no clear agreement between the two governments over the deadline for Pyongyang’s report. “There is no specific timeframe on which Japan and North Korea have agreed,” he said.
Abe has been claiming that he has managed to get North Korea, which used to say the abduction issue had already been resolved, to start a reinvestigation. He has stressed that he has succeeded in “prying open the heavy door.”
One year since the start of the reinvestigation, however, can he still claim that the heavy door has really been opened?
Obviously, the primary blame for the current situation should be put on North Korea’s insincere handling of the matter.
In reopening dialogue with the North, however, what kind of workable game plan for success did the Abe administration have? Why has this new round of negotiations been so unproductive?
The administration should offer detailed explanations at least to the families of the abduction victims. The families have been yearning desperately to see their loved ones return home.
With a combination of hope and anxiety, the families have been watching how the fresh investigation will turn out.
Sakie Yokota, the mother of Megumi Yokota, who has become a symbol of the sufferings of the victims and their families, has described the past year as “the most fatiguing and trying period” of all.
Japan’s political leadership has failed to offer any consolation, let alone good news, to the agonizing families of the abductees.