No Aid to North Korea Says Japan
Saturday, December 11, 2004 Posted: 11:58 AM JST
Japan will no longer give food aid to North Korea Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said Friday. "We have no intention (of offering North Korea aid) in the immediate future," the minister told a Diet panel. "Even if we receive a request from the World Food Program, it would be difficult to respond." The drastic measure comes in response to the news that North Korea once again falsified information about missing Japanese abducted by North Korea.
Japan provided 125,000 tons of food aid to North Korea earlier this year. This is half the 250,000 tons Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi pledged to give during a summit in Pyongyang in May with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Koizumi has not expressed any intentions to levy sanctions on Pyongyang, but the pressure on him to do just that is on.
"We angrily admonish North Korea,'' Shigeru Yokota, Megumi's father, said during a press conference in Tokyo on Wednesday. "The power of truth has proved stronger than evil. With the anger of the people behind us, we now strongly demand that the government imposes economic sanctions on North Korea immediately.''
"Big pressure is necessary," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said Friday. The same day the House of Representatives Special Committee on North Korean abductions and Other Issues adopted a resolution that urges the government to study economic sanctions on Pyongyang. Japan's governing Liberal Democratic Party has filed a similar resolution. The Liberal Democratic Party's Shinzo Abe, who has been playing a leading role in the Japan's dealings with North Korea, called North Korea "an eerie nation'' after the new falsifications became known.
Hosoda said North Korea has violated the spirit of the Pyongyang Declaration signed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang in September 2002. The declaration calls on both nations to resolve outstanding issues between the two sides. Named specifically are North Korean calls for compensation for Japan's colonial rule and the abduction issue.
Pyongyang admits its agents abducted 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s. Five of these are now back in Japan. The other eight, including Megumi Yokota, died long ago claims North Korea. The Japanese government claims that two more Japanese were abducted, private organizations believe the true number is in the hundreds, but Pyongyang says it has no records of other abductions.
Japanese delegates visited Pyongyang last month to collect information on the missing Japanese that have officially been recognized. They were handed several containers of materials, including what were supposedly the cremated remains of Megumi Yokota, abducted at the age of 13 in 1977. Pyongyang claims she killed herself in 1994. On Wednesday DNA testing results were released which proved that the remains did not belong to Yokota but came from two unknown people. The remains were examined by forensic specialists from Teikyo University.
Koizumi has expressed regret that North Korea seemed to have deliberately faked the evidence, but added that this offers "some hope'' to the Yokota family that Megumi is still alive.
Megumi's father expressed the same hope. "North Korea has offered Japan various stories. But all have been discredited. We will continue our movement, believing that Megumi is alive.''
A sentiment clearly shared by his wife Sakie. "I was really relieved. It has now become clear that the North Korean regime is cruel and has been doing inhumane things. Many (Japanese) officials worked hard in the Japan-North Korea working-level negotiations. If North Korea does not change, it could destroy the lives of many other innocent people. It's now clear that the Japanese people must stand firm against the evil. We will do everything possible to resolve the abduction issue.''
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