Japan's politicians propose plan to rescue abductees in North Korea

By Elizabeth Shim  |  April 13, 2017 at 2:29 PM
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April 13 (UPI) -- Japan could soon draw up a contingency plan to rescue its abducted citizens, who may still be trapped in North Korea.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently received a proposal from his ruling Liberal Democratic Party, calling for a review of rescue measures in the event of a North Korea regime collapse, local newspaper Sankei Shimbun reported Thursday.

The proposal recommends special units of Japan's self-defense forces be allowed to be deployed on convoys and helicopters, under U.S. command, and be allowed to infiltrate North Korean territory in the event of an emergency, according to the report.

The SDF's special unit would keep weapons use to a minimum and focus on the rescue of abducted Japanese citizens, the proposal states.

Since 2002, North Korea has allowed five Japanese abductees to return, has maintained eight others died and another four were never taken to North Korea.

A dozen abductees are still officially recognized by Tokyo.

Eriko Yamatani, a LDP politician and the minister in charge of the abductions issue, delivered the letter to Abe and may be the main author of the proposal.

The plan suggests Japan should "seek North Korea's consent" on the rescue of Japanese abductees, but pointed out North Korea denial and lack of willingness to cooperate on the matter indicates such an approach would not be possible, according to the Sankei.

Japan has been increasingly wary of North Korea's escalating threats, and Abe continues to warn his country of Pyongyang's developing weapons program.

On Thursday Abe told lawmakers North Korea might now have the capability to deliver missiles loaded with the deadly nerve gas sarin, NHK reported.

Various measures need to be reviewed, Abe said.

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