|North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho addresses the general debate of the General Assembly at the United Nations on Sept. 29 last year. UN|
According to Japanese news reports, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho informed Mongolian Foreign Minister Damdin Tsogtbaatar of the plans during their meeting on Jan. 8, which was then relayed to Japan by the Mongolian foreign minister.
According to the reports, Ri stated that Pyongyang “can’t but raise the issue (of forced mobilization) as Japan maintains the position that abduction issue must be resolved.”
Between the late 1970s and early 1980s, North Korea abducted a number of Japanese citizens, five of who have been returned to Japan. Japan maintains that 12 more of its citizens have been taken and held by North Korea, but Pyongyang claims that eight have died and denies connection to the remaining four individuals.
Ri is reported to have said that as Japan is making “irrational demands” for the return of deceased individuals, and people who “did not come to North Korea,” Pyongyang will be forced to raise the issue of “8.4 million Koreans who were mobilized” during Japan’s occupation.
Japan, however, claims that all matters regarding Koreans mobilized for military and industrial purposes were settled through the 1965 agreement with South Korea. Seoul’s Supreme Court, however, ruled last year that the Japanese firms concerned needed to compensate the South Korean victims, raising criticism from Japan.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)