Suga denies report that Pyongyang provided list of Japanese living in North

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

The government on Thursday flatly denied a newspaper report that Tokyo has received from Pyongyang a list of about 30 Japanese living in North Korea, including those kidnapped by North Korean agents in the 1970s and ’80s.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga denied the existence of the list, reported by the Nikkei, Japan’s largest business daily, and said the government plans to file a protest.

“All the reported (facts) are erroneous. There were no facts like that at all,” Suga said of the article, which was the top story in the paper’s morning edition.

“We are now preparing to protest,” Suga said at the regular news conference.

According to the Nikkei, North Korean officials provided a list of Japanese nationals living in the North during bilateral talks held in Beijing on July 1.

The list reportedly included the names, birth dates, occupations and family makeup of the Japanese.

The details of about two-thirds of the Japanese listed matched the information held by Japanese authorities, according to the paper.

Japan has claimed that at least 17 nationals were abducted by North Korean spies in the 1970s and ’80s, and suspects more may have been kidnapped. Five of the 17 were returned to Japan in 2002 and the rest were declared dead or nonexistent by Pyongyang.

The list, which Pyongyang reportedly claimed was compiled early this year, included some of the remaining 12 known abductees, the report said.