• Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

Japan Subculture Research Center

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UN International Symposium on the North Korean Abduction Issue: For Families, Far From Resolved

This month, the governments of Japan, Australia, South Korea, the United States, and the EU are jointly holding a symposium hosted by the United Nations (UN) on the North Korean abduction issue. 

For decades, the abduction issue was dismissed as urban legend. A post-war North Korean plot to kidnap Japanese people off the coast and use them to train spies: it sounds unbelievable, stranger than fiction.

It wasn’t until it became impossible to ignore – the culmination of years of campaigning by the families of abduction victims, some good journalism, a plane hijacking, and finally confirmation by Kim Jong-Il himself –  that the abduction issue was taken seriously. And now, in Japan, the wave of abductions between the 70’s and 90’s are well known as a tragic period in the nation’s history. 

However, the issue is still ongoing. Some of the abductees were returned to Japan in the 2000s – but not all. There’s speculation that some abductees are still being held in North Korea, and that more people have been abducted in years since. 

The scope of this issue goes beyond Japan. It has been suspected that North Korea is responsible for the kidnappings of citizens from other countries such as Thailand and the United States as well. 

Awareness is rising internationally. Last year, these bizarre kidnappings were covered in the podcast, The Evaporated, for which the younger brother of Megumi Yokota, Japan’s most famous abductee, was interviewed.

The brother, Takuya Yokota, is scheduled to speak at the symposium, as are family members of other victims. In addition, a panel of experts from the international community will be speaking. 

The annual symposium to continue the effort to return any remaining abductees to their home countries will be livestreamed on June 29 2023 from 8:00 to 9:45 EST (21:00 to 22:45 JST), available on the official UN programming website and on the official Youtube channel of the Government of Japan Headquarters for the Abduction Issue.

To learn more about the abduction issue: 

Official Website of the Headquarters for the Abduction Issue, Government of Japan (Japanese, English, Korean, Chinese, Russian, French, Spanish. Link is to English site)

YouTube channel of Prof. Kazuhiro Araki of the Specified Missing Persons Problem Investigation Committee (Japanese)

The Evaporated: Gone With The Gods, episode Conspiracy on the Coast (English)

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