Korean residents in Japan have expressed dismay at the fate of some of the Japanese nationals abducted to North Korea and at the obscuring of the issue of compensation from Japan for its 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
The revelation that some Japanese nationals abducted in the 1970s and 1980s have already died came following a historic summit Tuesday between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
“I am totally shocked,” writer Kim Sok Pom, 76, said as he watched the media reveal that some of the abducted people have died.
“North Korea should take responsibility for the outcome,” he said. “The problem occurred during hostile relations between Japan and North Korea. The possibility of such problems recurring may be reduced if relations are normalized.”
But he added that “it would be really humiliating” if the compensation issue, as vaguely referred to in the postsummit joint declaration, is resolved by the “South Korea method.” Japan provided economic aid to South Korea in lieu of compensation when the two countries normalized ties in 1965.
“Japan cannot resolve the problem of its colonial rule,” Kim added.
Sin Suk Ok, 43, a human resources development consultant, said: “Until just yesterday the North Korean government had said the abductions were a complete fabrication. This is a betrayal of our Korean race. Japan should demand the extradition of the abductors and their leaders.
“Normalizing ties is important, but General Secretary Kim does not represent the victims of colonial rule. Japan is about to make the same mistake it made in supporting military despotism (in South Korea) by giving it economic support.”
Chong Gap Su, 47, who has hosted musical events to promote the unification of the Korean Peninsula, said, “My heart aches to hear that only four (of the abducted Japanese) are alive.”
Chong said compensation should be paid in the form of economic aid, but the Japanese government should not shut its door to individuals seeking compensation, including women who were sexually exploited by the Japanese military during World War II.
Chong also said the Japanese government should solicit popular opinion in handling the issue of the citizenship of Korean residents in Japan.
Osaka City University professor But Pak Il, 45, said: “In a sense, North Korea’s response was sincere.
“Kim’s decision to admit something hard to admit offers some hope. Japan should make efforts to entice North Korea into modern society.”
Meanwhile, the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun) canceled a news conference scheduled for Tuesday evening to respond to the outcome of the summit.
As the outcome was revealed, the organization said it was unable to prepare for a news conference as it did not have detailed information about the talks. Some senior Chongryun officials expressed concern about possible “Korean bashing” in Japan as a result of the revelations about North Korea’s abduction of Japanese citizens.
However, the organization later issued an announcement by Chongryun chief So Man Sul, saying he “fervently welcomes” the historic Pyongyang declaration and expects normalization talks to be resumed in October.
The announcement also said he hopes the abduction issue will be “resolved with good faith between the two countries.”
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.