Former Japanese abductee appeals for immediate resolution

A Japanese national who returned home after being abducted by North Korea has appealed for a prompt resolution of the abduction issue.

Hasuike Kaoru delivered a speech at a junior high school in the city of Niigata, central Japan, on Tuesday.

He was abducted by North Korean agents in Niigata Prefecture, on the Sea of Japan coast, in 1978. He was repatriated with other abductees after the Japan-North Korea summit took place in 2002.

Hasuike noted that the parents of the remaining abductees are aged, with only two of them still in good health.

He said Japan must tell North Korea that now is the only time to resolve the issue, and that people should know the abduction issue is a current problem.

Hasuike added that the victims' relatives still believe their loved ones are alive, and are frustrated because they are unable to confirm that. He called for further public support to address the issue.

A student who attended the talk said the abduction issue is still ongoing, and realized there is limited time left.

Hasuike later said he saw many people showing interest in the issue last year, which marked 20 years since he and other abductees returned to Japan.

But he said he is worried that the issue may lose its momentum.

The Japanese government says at least 17 citizens were abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s. Five returned in 2002, but the other 12 remain unaccounted for.