SEOUL – Jin Matsubara, minister in charge of the abduction issue, vowed Sunday in Seoul that Tokyo will make “an all-out effort to rescue the abductees as soon as possible.”
Matsubara also urged the victims “never to abandon hope” in a message recorded at a radio station for a shortwave broadcast by Free North Korea Radio, which is run by defectors from North Korea.
The issue revolves around several Japanese who were kidnapped by North Korean spies in the 1970s and 1980s, some of whom were used to teach the Japanese language.
In the message, Matsubara repeated Japan’s stance, which is to demand that the North’s leadership resolve the abduction issue as a condition for normalizing ties between Tokyo and Pyongyang.
He also urged the North to address the issue as soon as possible because the abductees and their families are aging.
“If many of them die, the two countries will forever lose opportunities to normalize their diplomatic relations,” he said.
Matsubara also said Japan can offer as much humanitarian assistance as other countries provide, if progress is made on the abduction issue.