Japan denies report North Korea handed over list of abductees
Japan denies truth of media report saying Pyongyang has supplied Tokyo with a list that includes the names of those abducted by North Korea in the past
Japan’s top government spokesman on Thursday flatly denied a newspaper report that Pyongyang recently presented Tokyo with a list of about 30 Japanese, including those abducted by North Korea in the past.
“It’s clearly a false report,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference, responding to the front-page article in the Nikkei business daily.
The paper said in its Thursday morning edition that a list of about 30 Japanese survivors including those abducted by North Korea was presented in a July 1 meeting in Beijing and that some on the list are among those recognised by the Japanese government as abductees.
The government officially lists 17 nationals as victims of North Korean abductions in the 1970s and 1980s. Five of them returned to Japan in 2002 following a visit to Pyongyang by then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
What the paper reported did not take place “in the meeting or during break time,” Suga said, adding that North Korea has never presented such a list since it agreed in late May to investigate the whereabouts of Japanese abductees.
Last week, Japan announced the lifting of some of its unilateral sanctions on North Korea after Pyongyang set up a special abduction investigation committee led by a senior official of the powerful National Defence Commission.
The Nikkei first reported a week earlier that North Korea had presented Japan with a list containing a double-digit number of abduction victims during the Beijing meeting. But the government denied the report.