Joe’s comment here gives me good chance to unleash yet again a couple of my pet peeves—regarding the abductees and Prime Minister Koizumi. No, those canards do not come up in Joe’s comment, but it’s clear that they lurk behind the media reports that go into forming the background of his take.
There are good reasons why nothing has been achieved with regard to the following Japanese demands:
1) Give a full and credible accounting of the fate of the remaining abductees;
2) Return remaining survivors; and
3) Punish the people responsible for the operation.
The North Korean authorities claim that they have already accounted for the remainder—they deny some of the Japanese claims—and that there are no more survivors. They also claim that the people responsible for the operation were punished. There is a gap here. No, there is nothing short of regime change that can bring the North Koreans to satisfy Japanese demands. I think that this is hard not to see. But then, why does MOFA persist in making these demands?
One line of persistent popular among Western liberals is that this is the result of a successful rightwing campaign, who use this issue for some inchoate but undoubtedly nefarious purposes. Not so. This, as I have never tired of explaining, is a misunderstanding, a misunderstanding based on a few undeniable facts regarding Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. To wit, Koizumi:
1) paid his respects at Yasukuni Shrine (to fulfill a campaign promise);
2) dispatched troop to Iraq (after the war was over); and
2) was succeeded by Shinzo Abe as Prime Minister.
In fact, the Japanese demands are supported in public by most politicians across the entire political spectrum from the nationalist-nativists to JCP spokesmen as well as just about every editorial writer in the mainstream media from Sankei to Asahi. The key phrase here is “in public.” For it is the Japanese public that was the driving force behind these demands; Koizumi would have lost his job if he had stayed the course after his first trip to Pyongyang, and Abe was the grateful recipient, not the instigator, of the popular outcry over the North Korean revelations that helped propel him into the Prime Minister’s office. Public sentiment regarding the issue has very much cooled, but no one in any position of responsibility is willing yet to touch this political third rail. And that’s things stand today. If you doubt me, read the election manifestos.
If you want to know more about thoughts regarding Koizumi and how he fits into the big picture on this, you are free to search my blog or, better, pay me to write an essay on this subject. If you don’t have the time or money to do so, then you’ll just have to take my word for it.