Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was briefed Tuesday by Isao Iijima on his recent visit to North Korea as the government steps up efforts to resolve Pyongyang’s abductions of Japanese citizens.
“I think the prime minister will put (his belief) into action with unwavering resolve,” Iijima told reporters after the meeting in which they apparently discussed stalled talks with North Korea on the issue.
Iijima visited Pyongyang from May 14 to Friday, conveying Abe’s strong intention of addressing the abductions, which were committed in the 1970s and 1980s and have prevented the two countries from normalizing relations.
He reportedly met with senior officials of the hermit state, including No. 2 man Kim Yong Nam.
Iijima was a top aide to former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and accompanied him on visits to Pyongyang in 2002 and 2004 for talks with Kim Jong Il. Those talks led to the return to Japan of five abductees.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga joined the meeting between Abe and Iijima. The top government spokesman told a news conference that Abe and his Cabinet “will seek every possibility” to resolve the abductions.
Keiji Furuya, minister in charge of the abduction issue, said the government is urging North Korea to return all Japanese citizens suspected of being kidnapped by its agents, in addition to those officially recognized by the government as abductees.
Counting suspected cases investigated independently by a citizens’ group, the potential number of abductees rises to more than 400, though the official government list has 17 names.
“Our basic policy is getting back all people abducted by North Korea. Mr. Iijima delivered that message,” Furuya said in a TV appearance.