Pyongyang gave Foreign Ministry officials information on the fate of the abducted Japanese before the Sept. 17 summit between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, government sources said Wednesday.
During preparatory talks, the North Korean government clearly told the officials that some of the Japanese were dead and some were alive, the sources said.
Pyongyang also said it would provide information on several of the Japanese at the summit. But it did not say Kim would officially acknowledge the abductions and apologize, which he did at the meeting.
On Sept. 17, Pyongyang presented a detailed list on 14 people in response to Tokyo’s demand for information about 11 Japanese believed to have been abducted in the 1970s and 1980s. The North said five of the abductees were still alive, eight were dead and that it had no record that one person on Tokyo’s list had entered the country.
During a lunch break at the summit, Kazuyoshi Umemoto, a minister at the Japanese Embassy in London who headed Japan’s summit preparatory headquarters in Pyongyang, met with four of the abductees on the North’s list and roughly confirmed their identities.
He also met a teenage girl believed to be the daughter of Megumi Yokota, one of the abductees listed as dead by Pyongyang.
Yokota was snatched in Niigata in 1977 at age 13.
Relatives of the survivors criticized Umemoto for failing to make adequate preparations for the meeting because he failed to take detailed documents and photographs to North Korea. He also took no photos of the abductees or tissue samples to bring back to Japan to confirm their identities.
On Monday, Umemoto claimed the meeting with the survivors was unexpected, noting the ministry could have been better prepared and met with the abductees’ relatives in advance had it known the captives would be presented.
“We could have added investigators (who know the abduction cases well) to the Japanese delegation,” Umemoto said.
Experts also criticized the ministry for sloppy handling of the event.
Having such information ahead of the summit, Foreign Ministry officials could have anticipated meeting the survivors and taken proper steps, they said.
Koizumi said on a TV program recorded Friday that he had believed all of the missing Japanese were alive.
Considering his and Umemoto’s comments, the experts said the information possibly did not circulate through the Japanese delegates to North Korea and was kept to a limited number of officials.
Umemoto met with Shiho Chimura, Fukie Hamamoto, Kaoru Hasuike and Yukiko Okudo. Chimura and Hamamoto disappeared July 7, 1978, from Obama, Fukui Prefecture. Hasuike and Okudo vanished July 31 that year from Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture.
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