The relatives of Japanese abducted by Pyongyang said Tuesday they hope financial sanctions imposed against North Korea earlier in the day will result in progress on the issue.
“We can’t negotiate with them without ‘arms.’ Use of financial sanctions will exert a large influence. I want the government to make use of all laws applicable,” said Kenichi Ichikawa, 61, whose younger brother Shuichi disappeared at age 23 from a beach in Kagoshima Prefecture in 1978.
“There’s been no progress at all though North Korea admitted to abductions four years ago.”
Kayoko Arimoto, 80, whose daughter Keiko was taken to North Korea from Europe in 1983 at age 23, asked the government to do all it could to resolve the abduction issue.
“Although we’ve negotiated (with Pyongyang) all along, we’ve been at the mercy of its pace,” Arimoto said. “I would say the sanctions have come too late.”
Arimoto said she hopes Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe becomes the next prime minister because he been proactive on the abduction issue.
“I want him to take a strong position toward North Korea and do what he should for the country,” she said.
At a landmark summit in 2002, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il admitted to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi that Pyongyang had kidnapped 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s. North Korea subsequently let five of them return home and their families followed.
Pyongyang claims the other eight abductees are dead. Tokyo and the relatives of those abductees do not accept the explanations of what happened to those eight people.
The General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun) demanded Tuesday that Tokyo repeal all new sanctions imposed earlier in the day on North Korea.
“Problems can never be resolved by the means of sanctions and pressures, which only intensify tensions,” the pro-Pyongyang group said in a statement.
“We are concerned and think it truly regrettable that bilateral relations will get worse” because the sanctions go against a 2002 declaration both countries signed in Pyongyang to normalize diplomatic ties, the group said.
The sanctions are financial and come in the wake of a six-month ban on port calls Japan slapped on the North Korean ferry Mangyongbong-92, the only passenger link between Japan and North Korea. The ban was imposed shortly after Pyongyang test-fired ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on July 5.
The latest sanctions are in line with a U.N. Security Council resolution.
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