Former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung said in a message relayed to a meeting Friday in Tokyo marking the 30th anniversary of his abduction from a Tokyo hotel that the incident has been overlooked due to political maneuvering.
“We could not find out the facts behind the incident because the (South) Korean and Japanese governments reached a political settlement,” Kim said. His message was conveyed to a gathering of people from both countries who want the matter settled.
The former president said South Korea’s administrative authority tried to pull off the abduction. Japan had proof of this but chose to overlook the incident, he said.
Kim’s wife, Lee Hee Ho, attended the event. She thanked participants, saying efforts to find out the truth have helped develop ties between the two countries.
Mutsuko Miki, wife of late former Japanese Prime Minister Takeo Miki, told the gathering that there was a second political settlement when her husband became prime minister in late 1974.
“My husband was expressing frustration that the South Korean government and Japanese bureaucrats would not act on the matter,” she said.
A South Korean citizens’ group that attended the gathering announced it will disband because it is too difficult to find out the full story behind the case.
Kim, then an antigovernment-movement leader, was abducted from Hotel Grand Palace in Tokyo on Aug. 8, 1973, and taken to Seoul by boat before being released on the streets of the South Korean capital five days later.
Shortly after being released, he was put under house arrest by the South Korean government, then led by Kim’s opponent, President Park Chung Hee.
The (South) Korea Central Intelligence Agency is believed to have played a part in the kidnapping operation, which apparently violated Japan’s national sovereignty and triggered a diplomatic row.
Following a tumultuous career as a dissident leader, Kim became South Korean president in 1998. He finished his five-year term in February.