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Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Abductee kin to meet North spy
Taguchi's fate sought in meeting with jetliner bomber in Busan
By JUN HONGO
Relatives of a Japanese woman abducted by Pyongyang will meet a former North Korean spy Wednesday in hopes of learning her fate, Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said Monday.
Shigeo Iizuka, whose sister, Yaeko Taguchi, was kidnapped in 1978, will meet Kim Hyon Hui, a former agent who may have been tutored by abductee Taguchi during her intelligence training. Taguchi's son, Koichiro, will also be present at the meeting to be held in Busan, South Korea.
Iizuka, who is also the chairman of the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea, had asked Tokyo and Seoul to arrange the meeting.
"We received the request from Mr. Iizuka and collaborated with the South Korean government," Nakasone said. "I am very glad" the meeting will take place.
Asked if the arrangement could spur any reaction from Pyongyang, Nakasone reiterated that Pyongyang bears a responsibility to investigate the abductions and return any survivors to Japan.
"I have no opinion on what they will think" of the meeting, Nakasone said.
Taguchi, from Saitama Prefecture, has been missing since June 1978 and was identified by the government as one of 17 Japanese abducted by North Korean agents.
Pyongyang claims she died in 1986 in a car accident, but Japan's Headquarters for the Abduction Issues disputes this, citing lack of evidence.
Kim, who was arrested for blowing up a South Korean jetliner in 1987, has said she was tutored by Taguchi between 1981 and 1983. Originally sentenced to death and then pardoned, Kim is expected to detail the time she spent with Taguchi.
Taguchi's relatives and Kim, who now lives in Seoul, will hold a joint news conference following their meeting.
"We are thankful to the South Korean government for their continued effort as well as to Ms. Kim Hyon Hui, who willingly agreed to hold the meeting," Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said of the arrangement.
Talks on the abductions have been at a stalemate since September, when Pyongyang retracted its pledge to reinvestigate the fate of the abductees.
Tokyo is urging Pyongyang to exercise restraint in issuing threats of retaliation against countries attempting to intercept what the North calls a satellite and what other countries suspect may be a missile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said Monday.
The launch would be a "violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. We are urging North Korea to exercise restraint as what it is going to do will undermine regional stability," Kawamura said.
North Korea warned Monday that any move to intercept what it calls a satellite launch would result in a counterstrike against the countries, such as Japan, the United States and South Korea, trying to stop it.
Kawamura stressed that the Defense Ministry and Self-Defense Forces are required to ensure Japan's security.