North Korea official offers to return the alleged remains of Japanese

JIJI

A North Korean government official has offered to return the alleged remains of Japanese who died on the Korean Peninsula after World War II, a professor from Kyoto’s Doshisha University said Saturday.

Kenichi Asano, who visited the North from April 28 through Thursday, identified the official as Jo Pyong Chol from the Japan affairs division under Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry.

According to Asano, Jo claimed during a meeting Wednesday that the remains, discovered during major construction projects, are those of Japanese who remained behind in the chaotic aftermath of Japan’s World War II defeat, which ended its colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Jo also told Asano that North Korea regards an August 2008 bilateral agreement as invalid, thus nullifying Pyongyang’s promise to reinvestigate the fate of Japanese abducted by its spies in the 1970s and 1980s whom it claims have either died or never entered the country.

The official also hinted Pyongyang may be ready to enter into negotiations with Tokyo over the return of the remains of Koreans who were forcibly taken to Japan during its colonial rule of the peninsula, according to Asano.