Japan: Comment about abductions sparks harsh reactions

Liberal Democratic Party member and former Chief Secretary Koichi Kato has sparked harsh reactions from bloggers [ja] and on 2channel [ja] with a comment he made on July 7th. In his comment, Kato connected the stagnation of Japanese-Korea negotiations with the government decision in 2002 not to return 5 Japanese abductees to North Korea after they had been delivered to Japan by North Korea for what was expected to be only a short time. The abductees were among a group of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea in the late 1970s and early 1980s, most of whom remain missing to this day.

According to the wire report [ja] quoted in blogs and forums, on the decision in 2002 not to return the visiting abductees to Pyongyang, Kato commented that: “(It was said that) if they were returned once, Pyongyang would kill them, but this is what distinguishes my political stance (from those of politicians like Abe [Shinzo]). There is no reason to believe that they would have been able to do that.”

Blogger jieeku at rare metal responds:


Reading this article makes me really furious.
Whatever may be said, abduction is nothing less than a criminal act.


As a member of the family of the abduction victims says:
“The abduction issue is simple. It's a crime.”
The great majority of citizens consider abduction a crime.
Do Japanese politicians think of the [abduction] victims as nothing else but a political tool?
Still now, you haven't even tried to rescue these Japanese citizens from the crime [of abduction], so what are you talking about Kato?

Blogger kisaragiyayoi852 asks:


As a human being, is he not ashamed?
Will politicians do anything, even stand by and watch someone die, if it is in the national interest?

Some were much more succinct in their message. Blogger yoshikazu53toyoshima reacts to the news with two lines:


Shut up, you traitor to the country!


Leave this country!

At Cthulhu in the Water, another blogger offers this perspective, drawing a comparison with the hijacking of Japan Airlines Flight 351:


I wonder if Koichi Kato (I won't even include his title) would be able to face the abduction victims or their families and make the same remarks. If a sacrifice is really needed in negotiations with North Korea, then why doesn't he offer his own family? Back when Japan Airlines Flight 351 was hijacked [Yodo Hijacking], Parliamentary Vice Transport Minister Shinjiro Yamamura offered himself in place of the hostages. If in the same way, Koichi Kato offered his own family, then I guess he would have been able to increase [the value of] his stock as a politician. To do something like this, sacrificing powerless abduction victims from a place of safety and security, is just so completely despicable.

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