Japan asked North Korea on Wednesday to extradite a former agent suspected of kidnapping a Japanese citizen in 1980 and wanted in the abduction of four others in 1978, a Foreign Ministry official said.
Tokyo asked Pyongyang through diplomatic channels to extradite Sin Guang Su, 76, for his part in allegedly abducting Tadaaki Hara in 1980, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of ministry protocol. Japan previously demanded Sin’s handover over the four other abductions.
Japan made the request through channels in Beijing, and the North Korean official who received the request said it would be conveyed back to Pyongyang, according to the official.
On Monday, Japanese police obtained arrest warrants for Sin and Kim Gil Uk, 76, on suspicion of kidnapping Hara. The warrants are largely symbolic but they allow Japan to place the agents on an international wanted list through Interpol.
Hara was one of 13 Japanese citizens that North Korea in 2002 admitted to kidnapping to train its spies in Japanese language and culture. Pyongyang allowed five to return to Japan, saying the remaining eight — including Hara — were dead.
Tokyo, however, suspects some of the missing victims may still be alive in North Korea and has demanded that the reclusive regime fully investigate the cases and hand over the kidnappers.
Sin, who lives in North Korea, is already wanted by Tokyo for the 1978 kidnapping of four other Japanese. Police believe he and Kim conspired to abduct Hara after approaching him with a phony offer of employment.
Both suspects were arrested for spying in South Korea in 1985, Kyodo News agency reported. Kim was pardoned in 1990, and remained in South Korea; Sin was pardoned in 1999, and he returned to the North, Kyodo said.
Kim reportedly lives on South Korea’s Jeju Island and has denied involvement in the kidnapping.
In late March, police raided an Osaka business group affiliated with the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan – on suspicion that its top officials were involved in Hara’s kidnapping.