A proposed Diet appearance by a former North Korean agent was effectively canceled Tuesday after ruling coalition parties said they oppose inviting him to the legislature.
The former agent, who goes by the name Kenki Aoyama, was scheduled to give unsworn testimony Wednesday.
He reportedly agreed over the weekend to accept an invitation by the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.
Aoyama was expected to talk about North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals and its missile development program, in which he was reportedly involved as an engineer.
However, senior leaders of the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partners decided they opposed inviting Aoyama to the Diet.
Without participation of the majority coalition, the scheduled session lacks a quorum and is unlikely to take place. The committee’s chairman, Motohisa Ikeda, is a member of the Democratic Party of Japan, the nation’s largest opposition group.
Coalition party members claim they can not allow the former agent to testify because his identity cannot be verified.
When a foreign national offers testimony, the Diet normally notifies the embassy of the country to which he or she belongs, but such a move appears impossible as Japan and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations, LDP sources said.
An opposition party member, however, argued that the Foreign Ministry apparently pressured the ruling coalition to have the appearance canceled.
Aoyama is a Japanese-born ethnic Korean who traveled to North Korea in 1960. He earlier told Kyodo News that his fellow North Korean agents learned Japanese from two pairs of kidnapped Japanese.
In June 1998, Aoyama defected from North Korea to China and expressed a desire to defect to Japan. In March 1999, the Foreign Ministry approved his entry to Japan, allegedly for the purpose of gathering inside information on North Korea. The ministry has not publicly confirmed his entry.
“(The ruling and opposition parties) do not seem to have thoroughly debated the matter,” LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki told reporters.
“When the legislature plans to hear a person’s testimony, it should thoroughly consider whether the person is qualified to be summoned to the Diet.”
Opposition lawmakers said they are planning to hold an unofficial gathering at another date to allow Aoyama to give his testimony.
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