Japanese involved in abduction?

Citizen helped agents take Niigata woman, mission told

North Korea has told a Japanese fact-finding mission that a Japanese national was involved in the abduction of a compatriot decades ago, the Japanese government reported Wednesday.

The revelation is contained in a report on the findings made by a Tokyo mission that visited Pyongyang earlier this week to investigate the abductions of Japanese nationals the communist country confessed to last month.

North Korean officials said the Japanese individual collaborated with North Korean agents in the abduction.

According to Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, North Korea claimed that the individual was involved in the 1978 abduction of a Niigata Prefecture woman but did not provide further details.

The report, released by Abe, says that nine of 13 Japanese men and women abducted were taken to the North between June 1978 and June 1980.

The nine were snatched for the purpose of teaching Japanese to North Korean agents at an espionage institute and for their identities. Their abductions followed the kidnapping of Megumi Yokota, a junior high school student from Niigata who was snatched at the age of 13, in November 1977.

Yokota, one of the eight Pyongyang has listed as dead, killed herself in a psychiatric hospital in 1993, the mission was apparently told.

Other North Korean agents learned of the abductions in the early 1980s and decided to snatch three Japanese in Europe from June 1980 to July 1983, the report says. The three were Kaoru Matsuki, Toru Ishioka and Keiko Arimoto. All were reported as dead by Pyongyang.

A former wife of one of the nine Japanese Red Army Faction members who hijacked a Japan Airlines jetliner to Pyongyang in 1970 told a court earlier this year that the radicals were involved in Arimoto’s abduction. Japanese investigators suspect the radicals also were involved in the Matsuki and Ishioka cases, but North Korea told the fact-finding mission that it does not know if this was the case.

The report also says that two North Korean agents responsible for the abductions were taken to court in 1998 on six charges, including abuse of power. An agent named Chang Bom Rim (phonetic spelling) was executed while the other, Kim Song Chol (phonetic spelling), was sentenced to 15 years in prison.