UPDATE: Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has completely denied yesterday’s front page story from the Nikkei regarding a list of some 30 surviving Japanese abductees in North Korea. From Reuters:
Japan denies report on North Korea’s abduction survivor list
(Reuters) – Japan on Thursday denied as “sheer misreporting” a front page newspaper story that North Korea had provided a list of some 30 Japanese survivors still living in the isolated country, including known victims of state-sponsored kidnapping.
The Nikkei business daily said North Korea produced the list at a July 1 meeting in Beijing to discuss North Korea’s plan to resume investigations into the fate of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 80s.
North Korea agreed in May to reopen the probe, prompting Japan to ease some sanctions.
“I’m aware of the report, but nothing like that happened during the meeting or during a recess,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular news conference.
“It’s sheer misreporting.”
The Nikkei, citing sources, said Tokyo had matched about two-thirds of the names on the list with domestic records of missing persons.
Yesterday afternoon’s story is appended below:
July 10, 2014 3:00 am JST
North Korea says multiple Japanese abductees still alive
TOKYO — A list of missing Japanese said by North Korea to be living in the country contains known victims of state-sponsored kidnappings in the 1970s and 80s, The Nikkei learned Wednesday.
The Nikkei reported last week that the secretive country, which agreed in May to investigate the whereabouts of alleged Japanese abductees, had presented Japanese officials with a list of survivors.
Sources now say some 30 people are on this list, revealed at a July 1 meeting in Beijing, along with their date of birth, occupation and other information. As of Wednesday, the Japanese government had matched about two-thirds of them with domestic records of missing persons.
Some are among the 12 victims of North Korean abductions recognized by the Japanese government who have yet to return to Japan. The list also contains names of presumed abductees and other Japanese.
The North Korean side says the list was compiled at the start of this year, suggesting it knew the whereabouts of the missing Japanese even before the negotiations leading up to the probe. Pyongyang is supposed to report its initial findings between late August and early September.
It is unclear how the list fits in to the investigation, the start of which was announced on the same day the names were shown to Japanese officials.
Tokyo intends to press Pyongyang to adhere to its promise of a comprehensive probe, not simply look into the people on the list.