The government said Thursday that the five abductees now on their first homecoming in 24 years from North Korea will continue to stay, indicating that it plans to keep them here permanently.
The government also vowed to demand that Pyongyang allow the group’s children living in the North to join their parents here as quickly as possible.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said the government would soon convey the demand to North Korea.
If Pyongyang fails to comply before two-day bilateral normalization talks begin Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo will negotiate the matter during the talks as its “top priority.”
Japan and North Korea originally agreed that the abductees would stay in Japan for up to two weeks, and the group was set to return by Monday.
The five arrived in Japan on Oct. 15.
The decision effectively means that Tokyo has an eye on having the abductees permanently settle in their homeland. Fukuda said the government’s basic policy is to “have them stay in Japan permanently.”
The five are Yasushi Chimura, 47; his wife Fukie, 47; Kaoru Hasuike, 45; his wife Yukiko Okudo, 46; and Hitomi Soga, 43.
“It is essential to realize the return (to Japan) of the five together with their families so that they can express their free will,” Fukuda told a hastily arranged news conference. “As for the five’s families (living in North Korea), we will call on the North to ensure their security and quickly send them to Japan.”
North Korea abducted at least 13 Japanese during the late 1970s and early 1980s. As for the other eight, who North Korea claims have died, Japan will continue to demand during upcoming talks that Pyongyang carry out further investigations and provide more detailed information, Fukuda said.
Japan’s requests are based on those from relatives of the abductees, who have been calling on the government to keep the returnees in Japan and have their children in North Korea brought to Japan.
The abductees themselves, however, have indicated they want to return to North Korea and discuss the matter with their families.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told a Diet committee session that he will work on responding to the wishes of the abductees and their families.
“It is natural for them to think, ‘We do not want the returned abductees ever to go back. We want to spend time together with our families and children,’ ” Koizumi told the House of Representatives Budget Committee. “We want to approach (North Korea) in a way that we can respond to the wishes of the families and victims.”