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The government is not likely to enact a law to provide support for Japanese women who flee North Korea, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said Saturday.

Abe was asked whether Japan will enact a law similar to the one supporting Japanese abduction victims who flee North Korea and leave their families behind. “It is difficult to make such a special response as a state since these people basically went (to North Korea) of their own will,” Abe said.

Abe made the remarks on a television program aired Saturday morning.

He added, however, that the government wants to make what he called a “humane” response to the matter.

Last week, the Foreign Ministry officially admitted that it had helped dozens of Japanese spouses of Koreans and former Korean residents of Japan who fled North Korea for China to return to Japan. It has done this secretly with Beijing’s cooperation.

A 64-year-old Japanese woman was released from Chinese custody Wednesday following her escape from North Korea in November. She arrived in Japan the same day, returning home for the first time in 44 years.

About 93,000 people, including Japanese spouses and their children, went to North Korea under a repatriation program between 1959 and 1984.

In December, the government enacted a law to provide financial assistance and other types of support to 15 Japanese abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s, including the five who returned to Japan on Oct. 15, and their families.

Politicians’ delay data

The minutes of testimony before a Diet committee by the head of a group supporting Japanese abducted by North Korea have been withheld for nearly two months due to opposition to their release from Diet members, lawmakers said Friday.

The release of the document has been delayed because the witness has refused to accept a demand from Diet members he criticized in the testimony that their names be deleted from the record.

Katsumi Sato, head of the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea, testified before the House of Representatives Committee on National Security on Dec. 10.

During the session, he blamed Shin Kanemaru, the deceased vice president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and four other LDP heavyweights for delaying moves to resolve the abductions of Japanese by North Korea.

“These people have done various things like providing continuous rice aid at the request of North Korea and asking for the launch of bilateral negotiations by ignoring the abduction issue,” Sato told the committee.

Some of the lawmakers referred to in his testimony demanded that their names be deleted from the minutes. Sato rejected a subsequent request from the LDP that the minutes be altered, according to lawmakers close to the matter.

On Dec. 13, the Democratic Party of Japan, the main opposition party, and other parties rejected a similar LDP request at a meeting of executive members of the national security committee.

One compromise plan now being discussed would enable the lawmakers in question to defend their positions during a question-and-answer session of the committee.

But because the committee only normally sits after progress is made at the Budget Committee, which is presently in session, the release of the minutes may be further delayed.

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