NEW YORK – Family members of Japanese abducted by North Korea wound up a weeklong stay in New York on Friday saying they were pleased with the outcome of their efforts to obtain cooperation from the U.N. on the rescue of abduction victims.
Shigeo Iizuka, 68, one of the group members, described the trip as “a satisfactory visit” during a news conference at the headquarters of Japan’s U.N. mission.
The group met envoys and senior diplomats from 13 countries, including U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton.
Besides Iizuka, the entourage included Teruaki Masumoto, 51, along with Tsutomu Nishioka and Yoichi Shimada, both deputy representatives of a group supporting people whose relatives have been kidnapped by North Korea.
Expressing satisfaction with the Japanese government for their U.S. trip, Nishioka told the news conference that Japan’s position of never compromising over the abduction issue helps ensure the safety of abductees in North Korea.
After meeting with the family members on Tuesday, Bolton told reporters, “The abducting of innocent civilians by a regime like that tells you about the character of the regime and it’s obviously both an act of terrorism and a gross abuse of human rights.”
Iizuka, whose younger sister Yaeko Taguchi was taken to North Korea in 1978 when she was 22, said he called on the diplomats “not to ease sanctions against North Korea as long as not only nuclear and missile questions but also the abduction issue remain unresolved.”
Masumoto, whose sister Rumiko was abducted by North Korea in 1978, said Asian countries appear “less sensitive” to the abduction issue than European and Middle East countries, which are strongly concerned about North Korea’s violations of human rights.
“I believe Asian nations need to consider the abduction of their citizens seriously,” he said.
Masumoto said he hopes incoming U.N Secretary General Ban Ki Moon will raise the issue of North Korea’s abductions of foreign citizens and its human rights situation if he visits North Korea.
Ban has expressed intent to visit the North after assuming the top U.N. post in January.
North Korea has admitted its agents abducted 13 Japanese citizens.