Explainer: Why were Japanese abducted by North Korea?

The families said Biden talked to each of them and listened to their stories, encouraging them as their hopes were fading because of North Korea's escalating missile sand nuclear development.
 A traffic officer is dwarfed by the 105-story Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. U.S. President Joe Biden met Monday while visiting Japan with families of citizens abducted by North Korea decades ago to show his support for their efforts to win the return of their loved ones.(AP)
 A traffic officer is dwarfed by the 105-story Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. U.S. President Joe Biden met Monday while visiting Japan with families of citizens abducted by North Korea decades ago to show his support for their efforts to win the return of their loved ones.(AP)
Published on May 23, 2022 09:04 PM IST
Copy Link
AP |

US President Joe Biden met Monday with families of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea decades ago to show his support for their efforts to win the return of their loved ones.

The families said Biden talked to each of them and listened to their stories, encouraging them as their hopes were fading because of North Korea's escalating missile sand nuclear development.

WHO ARE THE JAPANESE ABDUCTED BY NORTH KOREA?

Japan says North Korea abducted at least 17 Japanese citizens, possibly many more, during the 1970s and 1980s. Twelve remain missing.

They include school children and others living along Japan's coast. Many were bundled into small boats and taken across the sea to North Korea.

WHY WERE THEY ABDUCTED?

North Korea apparently wanted them to train spies in Japanese language and culture, or to steal their identities so agents could masquerade as Japanese for espionage aimed mainly at South Korea.

After admitting in 2002 that it had abducted 13 Japanese, North Korea apologized and allowed five to return home. It said eight others had died and denied that the other four entered its territory. It has promised a reinvestigation, but has never announced the results.

Japan says North Korea has refused to send the others home because of concern that they might reveal inconvenient information about the country.

HOW WAS BIDEN'S MEETING WITH THE FAMILIES?

Koichiro Iizuka, 45, whose mother was abducted in 1978 and was raised by his uncle, said he was “grateful that President Biden sincerely listened to each of our stories" and promised his support.

Sakie Yokota, 86, whose 13-year-old daughter, Megumi, was abducted in 1977 from Japan's northern coast on her way home from school, said Biden kneeled down to listen to her and told her that as a parent who has lost two children he understands her pain. “That really cheered me up,” said Yokota, whose husband died two years ago. “I asked the president for his support so that all of us can have our loved ones back."

Her son, Takuya Yokota, who heads the group of abductees' families, said Biden's show of solidarity gave courage to the families and also highlighted North Korea's human rights violations.

WHERE DOES THE ISSUE STAND?

Japan's government has made the issue a political priority and has demanded that North Korea immediately return all the remaining abductees. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said he is willing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without preconditions, but there has been no progress.

Many elderly relatives say they’re running out of time to see their loved ones.

Japan and North Korea have no diplomatic ties, and efforts to resolve the issue have largely stalled for nearly a decade due to the North Korea’s nuclear and missile development and Japan's imposition of sanctions in response.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • People rally in support of abortion rights Saturday, July 2, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

    Texas clinics halt abortions after state high court ruling

    The Friday night ruling stopped a three-day-old order by a Houston judge who said clinics could resume abortions up to six weeks into pregnancy. The following day, the American Civil Liberties Union said it doubted that any abortions were now being provided in a state of nearly 30 million people.

  • Other places from which Google will not store location data include fertility centers, addiction treatment facilities, and weight loss clinics.

    Google to delete user location history on US abortion clinic visits

    "If our systems identify that someone has visited one of these places, we will delete these entries from Location History soon after they visit," Jen Fitzpatrick, a senior vice president at Google, wrote in a blog post. "This change will take effect in the coming weeks."

  • Professor Ajay Agrawal, who was honoured with the Order of Canada in the 2022 list. (Credit: University of Toronto)

    Two Indo-Canadian academics honoured with Order of Canada

    Two Indo-Canadian academics, working on research to advance the betterment of mankind, have been honoured with one of the country's most prestigious awards, the Order of Canada. Their names were in the list published by the office of the governor-general of Canada Mary Simon. Both have been invested (as the bestowal of the awards is described) into the Order as a Member. They are professors Ajay Agrawal and Parminder Raina.

  • SpaceX founder and chief engineer Elon Musk.

    Elon Musk's Twitter hiatus, in 2nd week now,  generates curiosity 

    The world's richest person, Elon Musk, has not tweeted in about 10 days and it can't go unnoticed. The 51-year-old business tycoon has 100 million followers on the microblogging site, which he is planning to buy. Since April, he has been making headlines for the $44 billion deal and his comments and concerns about the presence of a large number of fake accounts on Twitter.

  • A Taliban fighter stands guard at a news conference about a new command of hijab by Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, in Kabul, Afghanistan.

    Taliban's reclusive supreme leader attends gathering in Kabul: Report

    The Taliban's reclusive supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada joined a large gathering of nationwide religious leaders in Kabul on Friday, the state news agency said, adding he would give a speech. The Taliban's state-run Bakhtar News Agency confirmed the reclusive leader, who is based in the southern city of Kandahar, was attending the meeting of more than 3,000 male participants from around the country, aimed at discussing issues of national unity.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, July 03, 2022