The families of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea want Kim Jong Un prosecuted in The Hague, the head of a support group told Reuters Friday.
The group will present a petition to the International Criminal Court requesting an investigation into the kidnappings – and the regime’s silence about the disappeared – as crimes against humanity.
The group, which represents families of people Pyongyang has either admitted to kidnapping or is suspected of kidnapping, hopes their actions will shine a light on the decades-old issue and exert some pressure on Pyongyang, its leader Kazuhiro Araki said
“Right now, with the Olympics, South Korea is really making a connection with the North, which we did not expect. So we believe this will bring a lot of attention to Japan’s different situation.”
North Korea’s covert programme of snatching ordinary citizens on Japanese soil is one the rogue regime’s most egregious acts. When young Japanese, most aged in their 20s, started disappearing from coastal areas in the late 1970s, North Korea was the prime suspect, though many dismissed the notion as a conspiracy theory.
But after years of denials, Pyongyang finally admitted in 2002 that it had kidnapped 13 Japanese and brought them to North Korea to train the regime’s spies. It claimed only five were still alive, and agreed they should be allowed to return home, on the condition they later return to North Korea.
The five returnees caused a sensation in Japan on their homecoming after so many years – at which point Tokyo told Pyongyang they would not be going back, and North Korea called off further talks on the issue.
Since then, North Korea has repeatedly backtracked on its promise to investigate the kidnappings.
Tokyo officially recognizes 17 abductees, but suspects the true numbers could be much higher. It has also questioned whether the eight other abductees North Korea acknowledges are actually dead, as Pyongyang claims.
Either way, short of the unexpected collapse of the North Korean regime or the even more improbable capture of Kim, it’s is unlikely the supreme leader will be visiting Netherlands anytime soon.