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Japan To Raise Kidnapping Saga With NKorea At Six-Nation Nuclear Talks

Koizumi, who has invested political capital in engaging North Korea, secured the release of five Japanese kidnap victims and their families in a 2002 summit in Pyongyang with dictator Kim Jong-Il.


Tokyo (AFP) Jul 11, 2005
Japan said Monday it will press North Korea to come clean on its abductions of Japanese people during six-nation talks on ending Pyongyang's nuclear program which are resuming after more than a year.

Japan believes at least eight of its nationals whom North Korea snatched up to the 1980s to train its spies remain alive and kept under wraps in the reclusive Stalinist state.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda, the government spokesman, said Tokyo would raise the issue again when Japan, the two Koreas, China, the United States and Russia hold talks in Beijing on the nuclear standoff from July 25.

"North Korea has long refused to hold a bilateral meeting. We must use this opportunity to express our strong desire to seek a solution," Hosoda told a news conference when asked about the kidnappings.

"Even if they say they do not want to listen, we must say it," he said.

Hosoda said Japan plans to discuss the kidnapping issue with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is scheduled to visit Tokyo late Monday through Tuesday.

Citing Tokyo's focus on the abductions, North Korea has repeatedly called for Japan, a close US ally, to be excluded from the six-nation talks on its nuclear weapons drive.

The kidnappings raise deep emotions in Japan, with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi defying repeated calls to impose economic sanctions on the cash-strapped communist state as punishment.

Koizumi, who has invested political capital in engaging North Korea, secured the release of five Japanese kidnap victims and their families in a 2002 summit in Pyongyang with dictator Kim Jong-Il.

North Korea says eight other abduction victims are dead, but Japan is skeptical in the absence of convincing evidence.

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