Families of Japanese abducted to North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s expressed disappointment Monday that Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi retained her post in the reshuffled Cabinet.

The families believe Kawaguchi has not taken a tough enough stance toward resolving the issue.

“She’s a minister who has been making remarks as if the abduction issue is a matter for someone else,” said Toru Hasuike, 48, whose brother Kaoru, 45, was one of the five abductees who returned to Japan last October.

“I’d thought Prime Minister (Junichiro) Koizumi would use the Cabinet reshuffle to launch a new formation,” said Hasuike, secretary general of a group formed by the abductees’ families. “For us, there’s no time to lose. We can only call for her to grapple with the issue bearing in mind the parties concerned.”

Kawaguchi’s refusal to use sanctions against North Korea has upset the families.

“It seems that she only prioritizes dialogue with North Korea,” said Teruaki Masumoto, 47, the group’s deputy secretary general. “From now on, I want her also to put pressure (on North Korea) and achieve results in (solving) the abduction issue.”

Masumoto’s sister Rumiko was abducted to the North in 1978. She remains missing.

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