Arrival brings a mixed bag of emotions

People across the nation voiced joy Tuesday as five Japanese who were abducted to North Korea in 1978 arrived in Tokyo for their first homecoming in almost 25 years.

Others slammed the government, however, over its inadequate response to the abduction issue.

“I think (the homecoming) is a great thing,” remarked an office worker in her 30s in the Shinbashi district of Tokyo. “I am interested in the issue and I read about it in the newspaper.”

A 23-year-old office employee from Chiba said, “With the homecoming visit, I am looking forward to the revelation of the truth behind the abductions and to progress on talks aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations.”

Others voiced doubts over the information supplied by North Korea and took the Japanese government to task over its handling of the issue.

“The children of the abductees should be returning with them to Japan and not kept in North Korea as hostages,” observed one 65-year-old company executive. “The deaths of the other eight abductees are also unnatural. I believe they were murdered.”

“The Japanese government did not make efforts to rescue them for 25 years. In my opinion, the Japanese government did not fulfill its responsibility and was weak in its diplomacy.”

The executive in question was speaking on condition of anonymity, as were the other office workers interviewed by Kyodo News.

This was partly due to the delicate nature of relations between Japan and North Korea.

“I think the Japanese government believed in North Korea too much,” remarked a part-time worker in her 20s from Tokyo. “The Japanese government said the normalization of relations should come first, but I think North Korea is only targeting money and aid.

“Originally, Japan should have had a stronger stance, but the government is weak. I do not have any expectations for the government.”