• Staff report


Japan and North Korea will hold working-level talks beginning Wednesday in Beijing to review the May 22 summit between their two leaders.

The Foreign Ministry said Monday the meeting will include an update on an investigation into 10 Japanese nationals the government believes were kidnapped to North Korea.

Akitaka Saiki, deputy director general of the ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, and his North Korean counterpart, Song Il Ho, will attend the two-day meeting.

During the May summit, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il promised to launch a fresh investigation into the missing Japanese, eight of whom Pyongyang has said are now dead and two others the North has said never entered the country.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said Monday that Tokyo may take up issues related to Susumu Fujita, another Japanese who was believed kidnapped by North Korean agents in 1976, during the two-day meeting.

But Hosoda also said the government has yet to obtain enough evidence to prove Fujita was abducted by North Korean agents.

The government’s official list of missing Japanese believed abducted by North Korea but whose fates have yet to be confirmed stands at 10 and does not include Fujita.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiken Sugiura expressed hope at a separate news conference Monday that North Korea will offer either the outcome or development of its investigation on the 10 Japanese nationals.

“We will continue to urge North Korea to carry out a thorough investigation,” he told a news conference.

North Korea has told Japan it has set up an investigation committee and is looking into the matter.

Japan is also expected to explain its intention to provide 125,000 tons of food aid and $7 million in medical supplies to North Korea via international organizations. The aid is part of the 250,000 tons of food aid and $10 million in medical supplies pledged by Koizumi during his May visit to Pyongyang.

Photo raises hopes

A man in a photograph that was smuggled out of North Korea by a defector is believed to be Susumu Fujita, who disappeared in Saitama Prefecture 28 years ago, an expert said Monday.

Photo analysis conducted by Masatsugu Hashimoto, an assistant professor at Tokyo Dental College, suggests Fujita is the man in the photo, and therefore was probably abducted by North Korea when he vanished in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, on Feb. 7, 1976, after leaving home for a part-time job. He was a 19-year-old freshman at Tokyo Gakugei University at the time.

According to a group working on behalf of Japanese abductees and their relatives, the man in the photo smuggled out of North Korea into China was known to be a Japanese abductee.

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