WASHINGTON – A Japan-based group working on behalf of Japanese believed kidnapped to North Korea submitted a letter from relatives of the abductees to U.S. President George W. Bush on Tuesday, calling for the administration’s cooperation in resolving the issue.
Two members of the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea handed the letter to Michael Green, director for Asian Affairs of the White House’s National Security Council, for submission to Bush.
In the letter, the relatives said they hope to discuss the abductions with the U.S. people and gauge their will to confront together North Korea over the issue, Yoichi Shimada, one of the two group members, told reporters after the meeting with Green.
Shimada is an assistant professor of international politics at Fukui Prefectural University. The other member is Yoshitaka Fukui, an assistant professor at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.
Shimada said he and Fukui asked the U.S. to help five returned abduction victims achieve a reunion in Japan with their family members who were not allowed to leave North Korea.
The five, according to Pyongyang, are the only surviving abductees, but many more Japanese who disappeared under mysterious circumstances are also believed to have been spirited away to the secretive state besides those on a North Korean list of deceased victims.
Green said that even if Pyongyang compromises on the issue of its suspected nuclear arms program, the Bush administration will not strike a deal with North Korea until the abduction issue is resolved, Shimada said.
The relatives of the abductees want to visit the U.S. in March.
Shimada and Fukui said they want to ask members of Congress if the relatives of the abductees and missing can attend a congressional hearing when they visit.
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