SAITAMA – A representative for the families of Japanese abducted by North Korea decades ago has expressed dismay at the “revolving-door” Cabinet appointments to the post of minister in charge of the issue.
Referring to the appointment of Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato to the post, Shigeo Iizuka told reporters that the portfolio keeps changing hands.
But 77-year-old Iizuka expressed hope that the families affected by the North Korean abductions will see signs of a resolution to the long-standing issue between Japan and North Korea by the end of this year.
In Wednesday’s Cabinet reshuffle, Kato, who also serves as the minister responsible for attaining Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s goal of achieving a society in which all people in the nation can play active roles, replaced Eriko Yamatani.
Yamatani served as the abduction minister since September last year. Before that, Keiji Furuya had the post since December 2012.
Iizuka, who heads the abductees’ family group and whose sister, Yaeko Taguchi, was abducted in 1978, criticized previous abduction ministers, saying they failed to demonstrate a “concrete direction or activity” while in charge.
Taguchi is among the 17 Japanese nationals officially recognized by Japan as having been abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s. Five of them were returned to Japan in 2002, but Pyongyang says the remaining 12, including Taguchi and iconic abductee Megumi Yokota, either died in North Korea or never entered the country.