National

North gets 150 questions regarding 10 abductees

Japan has requested that Pyongyang provide full answers to 150 questions about the fate of 10 Japanese citizens whom Tokyo believes were abducted to the North, government sources said Friday.

During their two-day working-level talks in Beijing that ended Thursday, Japan gave the list of questions to North Korea. It hopes to receive Pyongyang’s answers at the next round of working-level talks, which Japan has suggested for September, the sources said.

The list is similar to one given to North Korea during negotiations on normalizing bilateral ties, held in October 2002 in Kuala Lumpur, they said.

The list was again given to North Korea because Pyongyang has not responded to Japan’s earlier inquiries, they said.

One of the sources said, “It was found out during the latest talks that the person in charge of the issue has changed and the new person in charge has not been given the previous list.”

The list notes inaccuracies in North Korea’s information on the 10, including errors in birthdays, addresses and other data on death documents.

Pyongyang has said eight of the 10 died following their abductions in the late 1970s and early 1980s and that the remaining two never entered its territory.

The North promised to reinvestigate the 10 cases from scratch when Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi held talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in May in Pyongyang.

Following up on the summit, Japan and North Korea held the latest working-level talks, but failed to strike a breakthrough, as North Korea provided no new information and gave only what Tokyo called an “insufficient” verbal interim report on its promised reinvestigation.

Japan has suggested holding another round of working-level talks, possibly in September, urging North Korea to thoroughly investigate and provide a full report then.

The 10 Japanese are among 15 officially recognized by the Japanese government as having been abducted to North Korea. The five others were repatriated in October 2002, a month after the first Koizumi-Kim summit in Pyongyang.

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