Abductees' kin issue new message to Kim Jong Un

The families of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea have issued a new message for the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, in the hope of persuading him to allow the abductees to return home.

Eighty-two-year-old Iizuka Shigeo, who is a brother of abductee Taguchi Yaeko and heads a group formed by the abductees' relatives, said in a meeting on Saturday that they will never give up, despite constraints imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Participants shared a sense of urgency as abductees' relatives are aging, saying there is not much time left.

Last month marked the 24th anniversary of the founding of the group, but this is only the second time it has sent a message to Kim. The first was in 2019.

The message says the relatives remain determined not to hinder the process of normalizing Japan-North Korea relations by asking the abductees about the country's secrets, if all of them are returned at once.

The message also touches upon the passing of Arimoto Kayoko and Yokota Shigeru, who played a central role in the group from its founding. It contains text saying "the message has a deadline," and strongly urges Kim to return the abductees while their parents' generation is well.

Unlike the previous message, it also calls on the North to accept a bilateral summit.

The group adopted a plan of action, and agreed to urge Japan's government to negotiate with the North without compromising, with the aim of holding a summit soon and bringing back all the abductees at one time.