The government will soon compile a plan for the nation to take in the five Japanese abductees whom North Korea recently allowed to return home and their immediate families once Pyongyang agrees to let them leave, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said Wednesday.
Abe told a House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee session that the plan, which may be drawn up this week, will be comprehensive, involving both the national government and the local governments where the families may seek to reside.
The government and ruling bloc may push for Diet enactment of a law to set the support plan in motion during the current session, he said.
“We are faced with the urgent task of creating an environment in which the abductees can reassimilate into Japanese society and live here with their families in comfort,” said Abe, who visited the surviving returnees in their hometowns earlier this month to ask about their needs.
The returnees are Yasushi Chimura and his wife, Fukie, both 47, from Obama, Fukui Prefecture; Kaoru Hasuike, 45, and his wife, Yukiko, 46, from Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture; and Hitomi Soga, 43, from the town of Mano on Niigata’s Sado Island.
They arrived in Tokyo on Oct. 15 from Pyongyang for their first return home since being abducted in three separate incidents in 1978.
The government has been working on an overall support plan to help the returnees and their families settle in Japan ever since it decided late last month to have the five remain in Japan beyond the maximum two weeks agreed to with North Korea and to demand that Pyongyang allow their children and Soga’s American husband to come to Japan.
According to a government official, Japan is considering assisting the abductees and their families by paying for their living expenses for an initial period after they reunite in Japan, helping them find jobs and offering them places to live.
For their North Korean-born children, who are in their teens and early 20s, the government plans to teach them Japanese and provide counseling in areas such as job training to enable them to live independently in Japan, the official said.
The Chimuras have a daughter and two sons, while the Hasuikes have a daughter and son. Soga and her American husband, Charles Robert Jenkins, have two daughters.
Some circles within the government have proposed offering food aid to North Korea as a way to break the deadlock in bilateral talks, in which Pyongyang continues to refuse to allow the abductees’ families to come to Japan, government sources said.
But it is unclear whether Tokyo will offer such aid, due to strong calls for the government to stand firm and demand first and foremost that North Korea resolve the abduction cases.
Bilateral normalization talks Oct. 29 and 30 in Kuala Lumpur ended in deadlock after North Korea demanded the early provision of Japanese economic assistance, and Japan insisted on resolving the abduction issue.
Pyongyang proposed holding the next round of normalization talks at the end of November, but Japan has yet to commit and is delaying its response because of the lack of progress on the abduction issue.
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