My published letter in The Japan Times (11 June 2014)

Below is a letter that I submitted in June 2014 for publication in The Japan Times in response to an article regarding the problem of abductions to North Korea.  I checked back to the website a couple of times after submission but could not see that it had been published so I concluded that it had not been.  I have only just noticed that it was in fact published and I reproduce the full text below as well as links to the original article and the text of the letter itself on the JT website.  The benefit of the delay in my spotting it is that there have been a couple of comments which can now be read as well.  I did not ask for my name to be withheld, so I am not sure why this was omitted.  I am also not sure whether the letter was published in the paper version of the newspaper, as well as online, but if any reader in Japan happens to have a hard copy, or can get hold of one, please contact me via the contact page.  Here is the letter:



The June 9 Kyodo article “Japan sends list of 470 potential abductees to North Korea” made me think. No one can begin to criticize the Japanese authorities for continuing to take a firm stand on this issue in the face of continued stalling on the part of an evil and untrustworthy state such as North Korea. They are working hard to bring about a solution.

But how would the Japanese authorities handle such a move on the part of Western states with regard to the scores of Western-Japanese children who have been abducted to, or wrongfully retained on, Japanese shores? Even the anecdotal figures relating to such abductions must exceed 470, and the suspicion must be that the actual numbers far exceed this, as there is a great deal of under-reporting, given the near-impossibility of having such children returned to the countries of their former habitual residence. Although Japan, grudgingly and only after coming under pressure from the American administration, recently passed the Hague Convention into law, that instrument lacks retroactive effect and will do nothing to address abduction cases that predate April 1, 2014.

Those Western governments that have parents and children caught up in this should take a leaf out of Japan’s book and compose a list of unresolved pre-Hague cases for the Japanese government to proactively address. That might bring about some political stamina from those Japanese officials who up to now have conspicuously lacked such a quality in those cases not covered by the Hague Convention.

As for the past abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents, it is a sad fact that the only real difference between Japan and North Korea is that the North Korean state positively sanctioned such abductions in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The best that can be said of the Japanese government is that it has positively tolerated such abductions.



Manchester, England

Source:  “Abductions by any other name” (letter),  The Japan Times, 11 June 2014



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