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Soga skeptical of plan to send abduction delegation to Pyongyang

Kyodo

Hitomi Soga, one of the repatriated Japanese abducted by North Korean agents in 1978, took a dim view Sunday of the government’s plan to send officials to Pyongyang to get an update on its new probe into the other missing Japanese.

“I don’t want the government to (send a delegation) as (the North) has yet to report” on its reinvestigation into the abductions, which took place in the 1970s and 1980s, Soga told reporters in Sado, Niigata Prefecture, where she lives with her family.

Tokyo has been urging Pyongyang to swiftly report any progress made in finding the rest of the abductees or other Japanese suspected as being kidnapped.

North Korea says the probe is still in an early stage and can only provide initial findings. At a bilateral meeting in September, the isolated country proposed that Japanese officials visit Pyongyang to directly learn about the current details of its full-scale investigation.

In Sendai, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe put a practical spin on the delegation plan.

“To solve the problem, we need a dialogue,” he told reporters.

Soga, who was abducted when she was 19 with her mother, Miyoshi, then 46, from Sado, collected signatures at an event on the island in the Sea of Japan to call on the North to quickly return her fellow abductees.

“Those who remain in North Korea are getting old. I feel frustrated because the issue remains unresolved although there isn’t much time left,” Soga said.

Soga’s mother is one of the victims on the list. Her husband, U.S. deserter Charles Jenkins, and their two daughters, born in North Korea, were allowed leave the North to be reunited with Soga in Indonesia in 2004. They came to Japan later that year.

Ahead of the 12th anniversary of her repatriation on Wednesday, Soga said she “had some tough times” after returning to Japan but is now “leading a happy life with support from the Japanese people.”

Soga was repatriated in 2002 along with four other Japanese abductees. The five were among 17 nationals officially listed by the government as being abducted by North Korea.