Planned security talks with Pyongyang may not be held this month due to the North’s refusal to drop its demand for the return of five Japanese it abducted in 1978 and recently allowed to go home, Katsunari Suzuki, Japan’s ambassador in charge of normalization talks with North Korea, said Wednesday.

“We are conducting preparations along those lines, but we cannot judge the outcome,” Suzuki told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, referring to the agreement reached during normalization talks held in Kuala Lumpur last month to hold the security dialogue in November.

At the same session Wednesday, an opposition lawmaker lashed out at ruling bloc executives over their refusal to let a North Korean defector, identified earlier as a former agent, testify before the committee about the North’s abductions and its nuclear weapons and missile programs, which Japan had expected to take up in the security talks.

Suzuki said Pyongyang is demanding that Japan send back the five known surviving Japanese abductees, who are now back home. Pyongyang set their return as a condition for going ahead with the security talks, he said.

Suzuki said Tokyo wants the five to remain in Japan permanently and will continue negotiating with North Korea from this stance. Tokyo wants Pyongyang to allow the abductees’ families to leave the North and reunite with the abductees in Japan.

During the normalization talks last month, Japan sought assurances by Pyongyang that no harm would come to the abductees’ families and pressed the North to let them come to Japan as soon as possible, Suzuki said.

He added that it was regrettable that no date was set during last month’s talks on when the family members would be allowed out of North Korea.

Masaharu Nakagawa, a senior member of the Democratic Party of Japan, meanwhile slammed the executives of the committee who opposed calling on the North Korean defector with knowledge of Pyongyang’s clandestine activities to testify.

“I strongly protest that executive members of the committee from the ruling coalition yielded to pressure to not summon the defector so that unfavorable statements against the Foreign Ministry will not surface,” he said.

The defector, who uses the pseudonym Kenki Aoyama, was expected to testify on North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals and development of nuclear weapons and missiles.

But on Monday, the ruling bloc raised opposition to Aoyama testifying, arguing that his real name has not been confirmed and that it is inappropriate to call in someone whose identity cannot be verified.

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