Japan will wait for North Korea to make its next move while seeking cooperation from the United States and its Asian neighbors on resolving the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by the North, government officials said Thursday.
Public pressure is growing on the government to impose economic sanctions on the North, but Japanese officials say they are not yet ready to resort to such action.
“The point is whether we can impose sanctions that will lead to the return of surviving abductees” to Japan, said a top Foreign Ministry official who asked not to be named.
But the official admitted doing so would not be an easy task.
On Wednesday, North Korea criticized Japan through diplomatic channels, saying Tokyo fabricated DNA tests it performed on remains that Pyongyang claimed were those of abductee Megumi Yokota.
North Korea submitted the cremated remains in November, but Japan said DNA testing has shown that they belong to somebody else.
At a news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said the government will continue to demand a “sincere” explanation from North Korea.
“There were (cremated remains) in the urn that belonged to someone else,” Hosoda said. “They should explain why such a thing had happened.”
Separately, Senior Vice Foreign Minister Ichiro Aisawa said Tokyo explained its recent exchanges with Pyongyang to the U.S., China and South Korea and asked for their support on the matter.
Aisawa said the ministry instructed the Japanese Embassy in Beijing to give North Korea a statement issued Wednesday by Foreign Ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima indicating Japan will consider economic sanctions against Pyongyang.
Aisawa also dismissed the possibility that the government may ask a third nation to conduct DNA testing on the remains, saying the credibility of Japan’s test results is beyond doubt.
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