Japan shed track of important N. Korean liaison officer numerous several years back

A key North Korean negotiator with Japan, who experienced been instantly linked to the leadership in Pyongyang and who was at the rear of big bilateral developments about the past two a long time, lost call with Tokyo several a long time in the past, sources common with the make any difference reported Wednesday.

The liaison, acknowledged as “Mr. Y” amongst the Japanese intelligence neighborhood, experienced told his contacts in Tokyo that he had fallen ill. A number of Japanese govt sources stated Japan and North Korea have “shed a guiding-the-scenes negotiation channel.”

Japan and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations and efforts to normalize ties have been strained by Pyongyang’s earlier abductions of Japanese nationals as effectively as its nuclear and missile packages.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a plenary assembly of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Social gathering on Feb. 8, 2021. (KCNA/Kyodo)

The negotiator was recognized to be a subordinate of “Mr. X,” a higher-rating North Korean safety formal who paved the way for the to start with-at any time bilateral summit held in 2002 between the late North Korean chief Kim Jong Il and then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, in accordance to the sources.

Jointly with Mr. X, the liaison officer was involved in negotiations related to Koizumi’s 2002 check out to North Korea. He was also in cost of talks in excess of a 2014 bilateral agreement struck in Stockholm on ideas for negotiations toward the settlement of the abduction issue, the resources added.

In 2014, he also informed Japan that two adult men who disappeared in the late 1970s were being alive in North Korea, they reported.

The two have been Minoru Tanaka, a Japanese authorities-shown abductee who went lacking at age 28 soon after boarding a airplane for Vienna at Narita airport, and Tatsumitsu Kaneda, an ethnic Korean who worked at the same ramen shop as Tanaka.

Pyongyang regularly stated Tanaka by no means entered North Korea.

Japan officially lists 17 folks as owning been kidnapped by North Korea, with five previously repatriated next the landmark 2002 summit, all through which Kim Jong Il admitted North Korea experienced abducted Japanese nationals.

Mr. Y also acted as a mediator for a magic formula meeting in Mongolia in 2014 between the late Shigeru Yokota and his spouse Sakie, 85, mothers and fathers of abductee Megumi Yokota, and Megumi’s daughter Kim Eun Gyong and her family.

Megumi Yokota, who was kidnapped in 1977 at age 13 on her way household from university, has grow to be a symbol of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea.

Sakie Yokota, whose daughter Megumi was kidnapped at the age of 13 in 1977, alongside with other household members of victims of North Korean abductions, attends a conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at his office in Tokyo on April 7, 2021. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Alongside with households of other abductees, Sakie Yokota fulfilled with Key Minister Yoshihide Suga last week and called for the early return of their loved kinds forward of the prime minister’s talks with U.S. President Joe Biden scheduled for Friday in Washington.

The security officer, whose qualifications is not regarded, succeeded Mr. X about 10 years in the past, and engaged in negotiations with Japan in third countries these kinds of as China and Mongolia, the sources reported.

Fluent in Japanese, he contacted Japanese officials making use of a wiretap-evidence cell cellular phone, they said.

He was thought to have designed a illness associated to the mind or circulatory procedure, but could have been sacked from his put up amid stalled Japan-North Korea negotiations, they extra.

Suga, who served as state minister in demand of the abduction challenge less than his predecessor Shinzo Abe, stated just after assuming the premiership past September that he is prepared to satisfy with the latest North Korean chief Kim Jong Un, a son of Kim Jong Il, “without preconditions.”

Japanese Key Minister Yoshihide Suga satisfies the press in Tokyo on April 13, 2021, right after the Japanese federal government made the decision before in the day to launch addressed radioactive h2o from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear electrical power plant into the sea. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

But Suga is struggling to discover a new negotiation channel as Pyongyang has shut down its borders to guard from the novel coronavirus pandemic.

What appeared to be the only window of possibility has now been closed following the North decided not to participate in the Tokyo Olympics this summertime, also citing the need to have to protect against virus bacterial infections.

Suga’s business office declined to remark on this issue.

Song Il Ho is the North Korean ambassador in cost of negotiations to normalize relationships with Japan, but a Japanese govt source explained he is not just one of the solution negotiators who have a lot more discretion.

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May 2022
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