Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Japan keen to see whether North Korea's new leader will change stance on abduction issue - 20th Dec 2011

Image: Sakie Yokota holds up pictures of her daughter Megumi that were provided by North Korea in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Oct. 2, 2002. Megumi Yokota was abducted in 1977 at age 13 and North Korea said she committed suicide in Pyongyang on March 13, 1994. (Mainichi)

Following the announcement of the sudden demise of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the Japanese government is poised to take a wait-and-see stance on whether his successor will change Pyongyang's hard-line position on the issue of Japanese nationals kidnapped by North Korean agents decades ago -- a key hurdle that needs to be cleared before normalizing diplomatic ties between the two Asian neighbors.

Because Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Il's youngest son and presumed new leader, is still in his 20s, a senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official feels that, "The transfer period will be long, and therefore for the time being we need to see whom he will surround himself with."

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said at a news conference on Dec. 19, "We cannot predict the impact (of Kim Jong Il's death on the abduction issue) now, but we would like to consult with ministries and agencies concerned through the government task force on what measures would be effective to resolve the abduction issue while watching North Korea's moves." Read More