Relations between Japan and North Korea have been tense for decades. Following many conflicts, the two countries have been estranged. However, Japan has recently begun to lighten some of its sanctions on North Korea. The Japanese government is lifting embargoes on the entry of North Korean citizens into Japan and also a sanction on North Korean ships in Japanese ports. The two countries have been making progress in resolving their disputes.
Why has Japan decided to reconsider these punishments after so many years?
Japan’s reassessment of their sanctions on North Korea came after the regime in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, agreed to reopen investigations pertaining to the kidnapping of Japanese citizens by North Korean operatives. The Japanese government claims that during the Cold War, at least 17 Japanese citizens were abducted and taken to North Korea.
This is not the first time that this incident has been brought to international attention. In 2002, North Korea confessed to the abductions but admitted only five victims to return to Japan. They denied kidnapping most of the other victims and stated that some had died. A few of the abductees were taken when they were alone, walking to school. Others had been in pairs while on dates at the beach. In order to investigate these disturbances, the North Korean government has formed a special committee composed of 30 officials.
Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, announced that his goal is to aim for a “complete resolution” of the occurrence. The United States has shown support for Japan’s actions to resolve its conflict with North Korea. South Korean is also supported Japan’s decisions.
The families of the abductees are waiting to hear back from the Japanese government on whether their loved ones will return or not. Aside from the affairs of politics, there are also affairs of the heart in which these families have been devastated by the disappearances of their relatives. The world will watch and hold its breath in wait to see if diplomatic maneuvers can return the lost citizens.