WASHINGTON – U.S. arms control chief John Bolton expressed understanding Friday for the belief among the families of Japanese abducted by North Korea that a regime change is necessary in Pyongyang, a representative of a group for the families said.
Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, met with representatives of the group at the U.S. State Department, Yoichi Shimada told reporters.
Members of the group are visiting the United States, including Takuya Yokota, whose younger sister Megumi was abducted at age 13, and Shigeo Iizuka, whose younger sister Yaeko Taguchi was abducted aged 22.
According to Shimada, the group told Bolton that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il cannot be trusted and the issues of the abductions and Pyongyang’s nuclear program cannot be solved without a change in the regime.
Bolton said he broadly shared their beliefs, Shimada said.
Shimada said James Kelly, assistant secretary of state for east Asian and Pacific affairs, said Thursday that if North Korea does not show sincerity in upcoming six-way talks, discussions will be held within a new framework.
The first round of six-nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, involving China, North and South Korea, Japan, Russia and the U.S., was held in late August. The second round is expected to take place in early November.
At a news conference later Friday, Yokota said he felt it was meaningful for the group to visit the U.S. and to make the views of the abductees’ families known.
Yokota called for pressure to be increased on North Korea, including the imposition of economic sanctions, as it is “important not to compromise, but to take a strict attitude.”
In September last year, North Korea admitted that its agents abducted 13 Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s. It later repatriated five but said the others are dead, a claim the abductees’ families reject.
Japan has argued it will only normalize diplomatic ties with North Korea after the two countries resolve the abduction issue. The two sides have not had diplomatic ties since North Korea was established after World War II.