The UN's envoy on human rights in North Korea will continue putting pressure on Pyongyang to disclose the fate of kidnapped Japanese citizens in the secretive communist state, officials said on Monday.
"It is unfortunate that there has been little progress on the abduction issue," UN special rapporteur Vitit Muntarbhorn told Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.
"For my part, I am determined to continue taking up this issue in my reports and raise international awareness," Muntarbhorn, a Thai university law professor, added.
In October, Muntarbhorn presented a report to a UN General Assembly panel in which he urged urged Pyongyang to stop punishing asylum-seekers returned from abroad and to end public executions.
He also called for transparent cooperation in accounting for foreigners, particularly Japanese, kidnapped by North Korean agents.
Nakasone praised the rapporteur for his "thought-provoking, well-balanced" reports on the human rights situation in North Korea and hoped Pyongyang would allow Muntarbhorn to visit the country, the statement said.
In 2002, North Korea admitted to kidnapping Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s to train its spies in Japanese culture. It later returned five kidnap victims and declared others dead without producing convincing evidence.
Tokyo insists Pyongyang has kept the fate of many kidnap victims hidden, probably because they knew some of the secrets of the reclusive country, which has been under international pressure to dismantle its nuclear arms programmes.