• Kyodo

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Former Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, seeking a House of Representatives comeback in Sunday’s election, has drawn flak from relatives of people abducted to North Korea in the 1970s over a remark during her campaign.

The outspoken Tanaka said Oct. 31 it would be difficult for Japan to be able to arrange for the North Korean-born children of the five Japanese abductees who returned home last year to reunite with their parents in Japan.

“Don’t the children have North Korean nationality? The Foreign Ministry must know that, and it must clearly admit that it would be difficult (to bring them to Japan),” Tanaka said while stumping for a candidate on Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture.

Tanaka is running for a Lower House seat in a different Niigata district.

After relatives of the five known surviving abductees protested, Tanaka said Sunday, “Everybody wants the abduction issue to be settled as quickly as possible.”

But Toru Hasuike, whose brother, Kaoru, is one of the five freed abductees, said Tanaka’s comments were unacceptable and argued that the children of the five are Japanese “as long as they were born to Japanese parents.”

Tamotsu Chimura, whose son, Yasushi, is also one of the returnees, said Tanaka lacks common sense in that she made the remark on Sado Island, from where returnee Hitomi Soga had been kidnapped, along with her mother, by Pyongyang’s agents.

Soga, whose American husband and children were not allowed by North Korea to accompany her on her homecoming last year, is living again on Sado, but her mother’s fate remains a mystery.

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