Cabinet Secretariat adviser Kyoko Nakayama, a key official dealing with the issue of Japanese abducted to North Korea, tendered her resignation Wednesday to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
Nakayama met with Koizumi and Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda in the afternoon and they approved her exit.
Nakayama will officially leave her post Thursday, Hosoda told a news conference, adding that the government does not intend to appoint a replacement.
Nakayama reportedly said that two new special advisers appointed by Koizumi on Monday — former Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and former Liberal Democratic Party Vice President Taku Yamasaki — will be sufficient to support him.
Nakayama told reporters she had accomplished her mission, which was to win back trust in the government among relatives of the Japanese who were abducted by Pyongyang.
Speculation abounds, however, that she was dissatisfied with the Kawaguchi and Yamasaki appointments.
Nakayama has called the Foreign Ministry’s stance on North Korea “weak-kneed” and also lashed out against the secret meeting that Yamasaki, who is no longer a Diet member, conducted with North Korean officials in China in April.
Relatives of Japanese listed as having been abducted, as well as kin of the five repatriated abductees, were shocked to hear of Nakayama’s departure because they place great trust in her.
“Although she was on the government side, she always acted and spoke from the standpoint of the victims and the families,” said Toru Hasuike, the older brother of repatriated abductee Kaoru Hasuike.
“She has been a great support for us.”
Touching on Nakayama’s comment that she believed her duty has been completed since two advisers to Koizumi were appointed, Hasuike noted that he does not believe they could find another government official to fill Nakayama’s shoes.
Nakayama accompanied the five repatriated abductees — Kaoru and Yukiko Hasuike, Yasushi and Fukie Chimura, and Hitomi Soga — when they were allowed to return to Japan in October 2002. The five were kidnapped to North Korea in 1978.
She also accompanied Soga to Jakarta in July, when she was reunited with her American husband, Charles Jenkins, and their two North Korean-born daughters.