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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Abductions highlight lack of intel-gathering: ex-diplomat

Staff writer

Tokyo should establish an organization to gather intelligence overseas so it can have the upper hand in negotiations, such as with North Korea over abducted Japanese, a former Foreign Ministry official on North Korean affairs said Wednesday.

Takeo Harada, who quit the ministry in March, said he and his colleagues lacked solid information on 10 missing Japanese Tokyo believes were kidnapped by Pyongyang in the 1970s and 1980s, when they visited the country last November to find out what became of them.

"It was as if we were brandishing a big stick blindfolded" trying to strike the treasure, Harada told the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo. "As a result, we could not get a lead in resolving the issue of the missing Japanese."

Since Japan had no solid information on the 10, all the Japanese delegation could do was seize on small inconsistencies in North Korea's account of the matter, said Harada, who guided North Korean affairs at the ministry's Northeastern Asia Division.

After the weeklong negotiations with North Korea, Japanese officials came back with what Pyongyang claimed to be the cremated remains of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted in 1977. DNA tests concluded the remains were not hers.

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The Japan Times

Article 8 of 13 in National news

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