• Kyodo News


The government on Friday upgraded its headquarters dealing with North Korea’s past abductions of Japanese citizens, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assuming the top post himself, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said.

The headquarters, comprising all Cabinet members, will promote “comprehensive measures,” including policies to deal with North Korea and collecting and analyzing intelligence, Shiozaki told reporters.

Abe was quoted as telling a Cabinet meeting in the morning, “Under the policy of dialogue and pressure, the government will work as one to bring all abduction victims back alive.”

Pyongyang admitted in 2002 to abducting 13 Japanese in the past and allowed Abe’s predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, to bring home five of them and their families. The North claimed the five were the only abductees still alive. But Tokyo believes the others may still be alive in the North and that many more were abducted.

The government imposed new sanctions on North Korea in response to its July 5 missile tests, banning port calls by the ferry Mangyongbong-92 and imposing financial sanctions on Sept. 19 under a U.N. Security Council resolution that condemned the launches.

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