Jul 10, 2018
So the other day I was out walking my dog and we passed by the local kōban. I took a look at the message board and saw these two flyers.
They are both related to the North Korean abductee issue. The top poster details the individuals who were confirmed to have been abducted by North Korean agents, specifically highlighting Hitomi Soga and Megumi Yokota who were taken from Niigata prefecture in the 70s. The bottom flyer calls for assistance in locating the North Korean agents who are suspected to have been involved in the abductions. Forty years after the incidents, and the local police maintain those postings.
The abductee issue has been in the news more than normal recently given North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s diplomatic efforts, leading to some pointed questions by outside observers. North Korea claims the issue is resolved, but the Abe administration maintains resolution of the abduction issue as a prerequisite to other negotiations. This posture has prompted some pundits to criticize the Abe administration’s focus on abductees as obstructive and overly political, but living here in Niigata and seeing those posters, I have a very different impression of the issue.
Put yourself in the shoes of a Niigata resident, knowing that multiple members of your community were stolen away to North Korea for a life of captivity and servitude. One of those abductees (Megumi Yokota) was only 13 when she was taken. On top of that, even though North Korea only admitted 17 abductions, there are literally hundreds of other missing persons cases from the sixties and seventies where North Korean foul play is suspected. For residents here (and other places where abductions occurred) this issue is unresolved and there is justifiably a deep mistrust of a Kim regime that is willing to perpetrate the crimes and then refuse to resolve them.
That mistrust is echoed at the political level. I understand why the Japanese government intends to resolve the abduction issue first. If North Korea can’t even be forthright about abductions (which have no impact on its national security), then how could the Kim regime be forthright about relinquishing anything else (such its nuclear and missile programs)?
Hitting the books once again as a Ph.D. student in Niigata Prefecture. Although I've lived in Japan many years, life as a student in this country is a first.
Blessed Dad. Lucky Husband. Happy Gaijin (most of the time).
I love that you talked about this issue. Very nice post. It makes me sad that this is still an issue and that people are still missing.
@ReishiiTravels Thank you for your comment. It makes me sad, as well. As a parent, I find the North Korean refusal to bring closure to the victims' families unforgivable.