Extension of stays mulled for abductees

The government will send an official to the hometowns of the five Japanese abducted by North Korea and currently visiting Japan to discuss the possibility of extending their stays, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said Tuesday.

Kyoko Nakayama, an official of the Cabinet secretariat who is serving as special liaison between the government and the abductees’ relatives, will likely meet with the abductees and their relatives, who are now in Niigata and Fukui prefectures, Abe said.

“It seems that they have various wishes,” Abe said, “and the government must listen to them.”

Tokyo and Pyongyang have agreed that the five, who arrived in Japan for the first time since their abductions in 1978, can stay in their homeland for up to two weeks.

Some of the abductees have said they want to return to North Korea on Oct. 28.

But Japan is reportedly considering extending their stay until after Tokyo and Pyongyang hold a resumed two-day round of diplomatic normalization talks beginning Oct. 29 in Kuala Lumpur.

According to government sources, the abductees’ relatives do not want them to return to North Korea, and some of the five have expressed interest in extending their stay.

Abe said the government will respect the wishes of the five and their families.

Meanwhile, the father of one of the abductees again criticized the Japanese government for failing to bring the abductees home along with their children born in North Korea.

Speaking to reporters in Obama, Fukui Prefecture, Tamotsu Chimura, the 75-year-old father of Yasushi Chimura, said his son has not clearly stated whether he wants to return to Japan permanently.

“(Yasushi) is saying that it would be good if he can freely travel between (the two countries), and I think that is because he has left his children behind in North Korea,” the father said.

Asking the abductees if they want to return to Japan on a permanent basis while their children remain in North Korea as hostages “will only put pressure on them and their relatives,” he added.

Separately, the Saga branch of the Niigata Family Court recently annulled a 1986 decision to strike Hitomi Soga, one of the five abductees, from her family register.

Soga was removed from her family registry after being listed as missing.

Following her return last week, however, Soga’s relatives applied to the family court to annul the 1986 decision.