Hatoyama wants bigger effort to get abductees back from N Korea
Tuesday 27th October, 12:59 PM JST
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told his cabinet ministers Tuesday to intensify the effort to bring back to Japan all victims of North Korean abduction at the first meeting of his government’s task force on the issue.
Hiroshi Nakai, state minister for the abduction issue, said at the meeting that the workforce of the panel’s secretariat will be expanded to about 40 members, from around 30 at present, including those to be picked from the private sector.
‘‘We confirmed that under the instructions of the prime minister, who chairs the panel, the government will advance the work to realize the swift return of all abduction victims with minister Nakai in charge,’’ Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano told a news conference.
The meeting, the first held under the Hatoyama government since it was launched in mid-September, came after Nakai traveled to South Korea to gather information on the abductions of Japanese nationals and others by North Korea.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Nakai briefed other panel members on the invitation he extended to Hwang Jang Yop, a former high-ranking North Korean official who defected to South Korea in 1997, to come to Japan and speak at a Diet session.
‘‘The issue of North Korea’s abductions is a very important issue,’’ Hatoyama told the panel meeting, expressing his resolve to work for a swift resolution of the matter, calling on other world leaders for assistance.
The task force was earlier reorganized to have only Hatoyama, Nakai, Hirano and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada as its members, rather than all 18 cabinet ministers as in the previous government—a change meant to make its work more speedy and flexible.
In his first Diet speech Monday, Hatoyama vowed to work toward an earliest possible resolution of the abduction issue using ‘‘all conceivable means.’’