• Kyodo

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Relatives of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea met here Tuesday with U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton to lobby for U.N. help in retrieving their loved ones, whom they believe may still be alive.

After the meeting, Bolton told reporters, “The abducting of innocent civilians by a regime like that tells you about the character of the regime, and it’s obviously both an act of terrorism and a gross abuse of human rights.

“That’s why we’re so troubled by it, not just the nuclear and chemical and biological and ballistic missile programs that North Korea has, but by these acts of terrorism that they’ve perpetrated over the years. It’s something we want to work very hard with the government of Japan to resolve.”

The group of relatives is led by Shigeo Iizuka, 68, whose younger sister, Yaeko Taguchi, was abducted to North Korea in 1978, when she was 22. Kidnapped the same year was Rumiko Masumoto, whose brother, Teruaki, 51, is also a member of the visiting group.

During the talks with Bolton, the relatives stressed the need for the U.N. Security Council to adopt a new resolution explicitly condemning North Korea for its abduction of foreign nationals, according to people at meeting.

The participants also quoted Bolton as saying that U.S. President George W. Bush had told U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan that the continuation of the Kim Jong Il regime was a “stain” on his presidency.

Asked by reporters at the U.N. headquarters if he quoted Bush as saying the existence of the Kim Jong Il regime was an embarrassment, Bolton responded, “I don’t think that’s exactly what I said.”

Pyongyang has admitted its agents abducted or lured 13 Japanese citizens to North Korea in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

North Korea allowed five of the 13 to return to Japan in 2002, but claims the other eight, including the sisters of Iizuka and Masumoto, are dead. The Japanese government and the relatives dispute that, and believe even more were abducted.

Relatives of the abductees and their supporters say their research has shown that people from 12 countries have been abducted by North Korea.

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