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Asia: Japanese Prime Minister, At Pyongyang Summit, Resolves Abductee Dispute


Prague, 24 May 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Japan says it has solved a dispute with North Korea over relatives of Japanese kidnapped by the communist state decades ago.

The announcement came following a meeting in Pyongyang between Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Koizumi said North Korea has agreed to release all eight relatives of the Japanese abductees, who were kidnapped in the 1970s and 1980s and repatriated two years ago.
Japan says that as many as 15 people were kidnapped from their home towns a quarter of a century ago and taken to North Korea to help train spies.


He said five were to be reunited with their parents in Tokyo.

The other three -- former U.S. soldier Charles Robert Jenkins and his two children -- will stay in North Korea for now.

Koizumi said he met with Jenkins, who allegedly deserted to North Korea in 1965 while patrolling on the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone.

He said Jenkins refuses to travel to Japan as he fears he would be tried by the U.S. military for desertion. But he said the family will meet in a third country, possibly China.

"On the abduction issue, five family members from the Hasuike family and Chimura families will be coming back with me on the plane to Japan [on 22 May]. As far as [Hitomi] Soga's husband Jenkins, we discussed this with Chairman Kim Jong-il, who told me that he left that matter up to Mr. Jenkins himself," Koizumi said.

Japan says that as many as 15 people were kidnapped from their home towns a quarter of a century ago and taken to North Korea to help train spies.

North Korea admitted two years ago it had kidnapped 13 Japanese citizens, but said eight of them were dead.

The remaining five then came back to Japan, but had to leave behind their North Korean-born children.

The kidnapping dispute has been an emotional issue for many Japanese.

Tokyo-based nurse Kazumi Okada said the children of the repatriated abductees are Japanese, “so of course they should come back to Japan.”

Takako Kato, a housewife, added, "It could be that they may be spared suffering if they were to stay in North Korea, but on the other hand, nothing could be happier than a family being able to be together."

In other news from the meeting, Koizumi said Kim told him he wants a nuclear-weapon-free Korean peninsula and reaffirmed a moratorium on ballistic missile launches.

A Japanese official said Japan will provide 250,000 tons of food aid and $10 million in medical supplies to North Korea.
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