Media to give abductees privacy

News organizations agree to restrain coverage during homecomings

Officials from 21 Japanese news organizations have agreed in a meeting to exercise restraint in covering the upcoming homecomings of five Japanese abducted by North Korean agents.

The decision was made in response to a call from the victims’ support groups.

The plea requesting “sensible reporting” was made Friday to the Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association.

Chief editors from the 21 organizations in the newspaper association decided to “make efforts so that the human rights and privacy of the persons in question and their families will not be infringed, and the peaceful life of neighborhood residents will not be disturbed” by media activity.

The agreement was also communicated to the Japan Magazine Publishers Association and news editors’ associations in Niigata and Fukui prefectures, where the five abductees will arrive on Tuesday.

The 21 organizations include publishers of major newspapers such as the Asahi Shimbun, the Mainichi Shimbun, the Yomiuri Shimbun and the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, as well as the Kyodo News and Jiji Press news agencies. TV broadcasters, including NHK, TBS and NTV, and radio broadcasters were also included.

Returning to Japan are two couples — Yasushi Chimura, 47, and Fukie Hamamoto, 47; and Kaoru Hasuike, 45, and Yukiko Okudo, 46. Joining them is Hitomi Soga, 43, who married former U.S. soldier Robert Jenkins in North Korea.

Officials plan return

BEIJING (Kyodo) Two officials of the Japanese Embassy in Beijing left for Pyongyang on Saturday to prepare for a visit to Japan by five Japanese abductees.

The team includes Norio Saito, head of the consular department at the embassy, and is expected to confirm the identities of the five Japanese nationals and issue travel certificates in lieu of passports for their journeys to Japan.

The Japanese government is also considering issuing the five abductees Japanese passports when they leave to return to North Korea, if they want them, Japanese officials said.

The two officials will ask the five about requests for their itinerary while they are in Japan and arrange their schedules with families, they said.

Prior to the departure, Saito told reporters, “I cannot speak about specific matters, but I want to see to it that the five people return to Japan smoothly.”

The five are two couples — Yasushi Chimura, 47, and Fukie Hamamoto, 47, and Kaoru Hasuike, 45, and Yukiko Okudo, 46, — and Hitomi Soga, 43, who married former U.S. soldier Robert Jenkins in North Korea.

They will arrive in Japan on Tuesday and stay for two weeks.