OBAMA, Fukui Pref. – Yasushi Chimura and his wife Fukie, both of whom North Korea abducted in 1978, told Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe and Cabinet Secretariat special adviser Kyoko Nakayama on Sunday that they want the government to realize the early “return” to Japan of their three North Korean-born children.
It was the first time Abe and Nakayama have visited any of the five abductees, who returned to their hometowns Oct. 17 after arriving in Tokyo two days earlier. The Chimuras are from the city of Obama, Fukui Prefecture.
“As the government, we will uphold our responsibilities and work for the return of your children. It may be prolonged but I hope you will be patient,” Abe told the couple after explaining the results of the normalization talks between Japan and North Korea held Tuesday and Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur.
In the ambassadorial-level talks, the two countries failed to reach agreement over the permanent return of the abductees and the resettlement of their families who remain in the North.
Regarding the proposal that the returned abductees meet with the families still in the North in a third country, Abe told the Chimuras and their relatives at the meeting that “there is such an opinion within the government.”
Fukie’s elder brother Yuko Hamamoto, 73, disapproved of the proposal and responded, “Is that not something like attempt to change the real nature of the abduction issue?”
The couple’s relatives urged the government to take every conceivable kind of action to bring the children to Japan as soon as possible, and also requested support for the couple’s lives from now on.
In response, Abe explained that the government has established a new office to support the abductees and their families, adding, “We would like to create a system where an expert executive committee can provide support. If you have any problems with aspects of daily life, I want you to tell us.”
In addition, Abe also told the Chimuras, both 47, that Pyongyang said at the normalization talks that it “guarantees the safety of their families left in North Korea.”
The government officials said Abe and Nakayama hope to hear any requests the abductees have directly from the abductees themselves during the visit, and hope the opinions will be useful in the support policies to realize the permanent return of the five abductees and the future resettlement of their families.
Abe and Nakayama are also scheduled to visit the other three returnees. They will meet Kaoru Hasuike, 45, and his wife Yukiko, 46, in their hometown of Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, on Tuesday and will go to Mano on Sado Island in the same prefecture, to visit Hitomi Soga, 43, on Wednesday.
At the bilateral normalization talks held in the Malaysian capital, Japan requested the early resettlement of the abductees’ family members. But Pyongyang refused and urged that the five abductees first be returned to North Korea.
Hasuike looks ahead
KASHIWAZAKI, Niigata Pref. (Kyodo) Kaoru Hasuike, abducted by North Korea in 1978 but now on a homecoming visit, seemed to have a positive attitude about working at the city office as proposed by his hometown, his elder brother Toru said Sunday.
Hasuike, 45, was quoted by his brother as first saying, “I cannot use the computer, and I am not adapted to the society.” But Hasuike later sounded more positive, saying, “I guess there is no alternative but to do it little by little.”
The city of Kashiwazaki in Niigata Prefecture, Hasuike’s hometown, offered him a job Friday as part of efforts to help him and his wife Yukiko, 46, resettle in Japan permanently.
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.