GENEVA – A group of three Japanese lawmakers requested Wednesday that the U.N. Conference on Disarmament also take up the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s while the forum works to address Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.
Minoru Kiuchi, chairman of the House of Representatives special committee on North Korean abductions and other issues, filed the request during a meeting with Julio Herraiz, the Spanish ambassador who chairs the Geneva-based conference.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Kiuchi, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said that Herraiz told the group he would like to tackle the nuclear, missile and abduction issues involving North Korea.
“North Korea is a member of the Conference on Disarmament. It makes a lot of sense to raise the abduction issue so that other member states can figure out what kind of a country North Korea is,” Kiuchi said.
Japan officially lists 17 citizens as abduction victims but suspects North Korea’s involvement in many more disappearances. While five of the 17 were repatriated in 2002, Pyongyang maintains that eight have died and the other four never entered the country.
On Tuesday, Kiuchi and two other lawmakers — Yasuhide Nakayama of the LDP and Eiichiro Washio of the main opposition Democratic Party — visited Brussels and held talks with European Parliament members dedicated to promoting relations with Japan.