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Lawmakers in Japan call for 'parliamentary diplomacy' with North Korea

Japanese lawmakers on Thursday adopted a resolution related to citizens abducted by North Korea, according to a local press report Friday. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
Japanese lawmakers on Thursday adopted a resolution related to citizens abducted by North Korea, according to a local press report Friday. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

April 9 (UPI) -- Japanese lawmakers adopted a resolution that addresses the issue of abducted Japanese citizens in North Korea and calls for normalization of diplomatic ties with Pyongyang.

The legislation, which received the support of ruling and opposition parties, was put forward by the Japan-North Korea parliamentary alliance for normalization of relations, the Mainichi Shimbun reported Friday.

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The motion seeks to "actively and boldly cultivate diplomatic relations" and calls for the "immediate repatriation" of all abductees, the report said.

Japan has called on North Korea to return all Japanese citizens kidnapped to the country. Tokyo recognizes at least a dozen abductees, but North Korea has said all living abductees were returned to Japan in 2002.

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On Thursday, Japanese lawmakers said their diplomacy is needed amid tensions between the two countries, according to NHK.

Seishiro Eto, a politician with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said the group will "go to North Korea, and create a forum for dialogue."

"The only means to a breakthrough is parliamentary diplomacy," Eto said.

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LDP politician Toshihiro Nikai agreed with Eto and said the government should "negotiate more seriously" with North Korea.

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Last month, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga did not rule out a meeting with North Korea's Kim Yo Jong at the Tokyo Olympics, but Pyongyang said this week it would not send its athletes because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Time could be running out for the families of abductees.

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Last year, Shigeru Yokota, the father of Megumi Yokota, died of natural causes. His wife, Sakie Yokota, said her husband expired before seeing their abducted daughter.

North Korea has previously claimed Megumi was dead. The Yokotas never disclosed the status of their daughter following a 2014 meeting with their granddaughter, Kim Eun Gyong, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

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