• Kyodo

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North Korea has not responded to inquiries from a United Nations Human Rights Commission panel investigating the abduction of eight Japanese nationals who, according to Pyongyang, died after they were taken to North Korea.

This information is contained in a report compiled by the commission’s Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance, which reopened the investigation into the missing persons in November.

The report, the first by the working group, summarizes progress in its work so far. The group will submit the report to the Human Rights Commission in a meeting in Geneva scheduled for March 17.

The report says the working group notified Japan, Britain and Spain — the countries where the eight were last seen — of the disappearances and asked them to provide information.

Quoting testimony from relatives of the eight, the report describes the information provided so far by North Korea to Japan concerning their deaths as unrealistic and insufficient.

The North Korean government acknowledged in September that 13 Japanese nationals were either lured to North Korea or abducted to the country in the late 1970s and early 1980s and eight of them have died. The remaining five were allowed to return to Japan in October, but their immediate families have not been allowed to join them.

The families of the missing filed the initial request for an investigation with the commission in April 2001. The commission suspended its inquiries after Pyongyang refused to cooperate but reopened the case after North Korea admitted to the abductions.

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