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Seven-containerful rubbish from Act III of Pyongyang farce

Act III of the farce, produced by Kim Jong-Il and directed by Junichiro Koizumi, took place in Pyongyang from November 9 through November 14 with now-infamous Mitoji Yabunaka, head of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, starring it once again. But this time around the Japan's delegation headed by Yabunaka was joined by some law enforcement officers and forensic experts to appear on the scenes of the hospital where Megumi Yokota, one of the 10 abductees at issue, is said to have died, and of a hotel where Yabunaka interviewed a man named Kim Chol Jun who North Korea said was Megumi Yokota's husband.

When the delegation came home on Monday, by a government-chartered plane, after wrapping up the 50-hour-long 3rd round of bilateral working-level talks and some "field research", these gentlemen were not the only things that were unloaded from the plane. Also unloaded from the same jet were seven containers that were said to be full of medical records, meteorological records, photos, and other articles presented by North Korea to substantiate Pyongyang's 2-year-old assertion that 8 of the 10 abductees have long been dead.

Needless to say, however, the 7-containerful cargo was part of the farce. On Monday night, the group of the family members of abductees held a press conference after being briefed by the government on the outcome of the working-level talks. At the press conference, Kenichi Ichikawa, whose elder brother Shuichi Ichikawa was one of the 10 abductees, told reporters: "The truth (with the bulky cargo) is, five of the containers were empty and the other two only contained a trifling amount of rubbish".

If anything, the only thing that might not be a fake was the cremated remains that North Korea said were those of Megumi Yokota who was kidnapped in 1977 when she was 13 years old. Megumi's father, Shigeru Yokota, 72, said at the same press conference that the remains were in a jar wrapped in white cloth and that police were not sure their DNA testing methods would work very well with the remains which were cremated into fine ashes at a high temperature.

Some say the material provided by North Korea to prove Megumi Yokota's "death" was particularly abundant and detailed because her parents are now the leading figures among other members of the group of the abductees' families and North Korea thought it would help cool down the public sentiments in Japan to decapitate the group by fully convincing the Japanese people that Kim Jong-Il was telling the truth when he said in September 2002 that Megumi Yokota had been dead since the mid-1990s. But no matter whether this observation is right to the point, the family members as well as their fellow countrymen who share the same grave concern with them are now facing a fundamental question: "What if the accounts Kim Jong-Il gave in September 2002 to visiting Koizumi on the fate of the 10 abductees were more or less true, except for the causes of their deaths?". For these sensible people of the family group there is no way to get around this question anymore.

For obvious reasons the government and its "lapdogs", i.e. major media organizations, have tried to avoid asking themselves this nasty question since September 2002. They have even tried, though very subtly, not to let the family members ask themselves this question. Even today, after Act III of the working-level farce proved futile, they seem to think they can keep distracting the family members' minds from the worst-case scenario, which cannot be totally ruled out now, by giving them every possible runaround, taking advantage of the family members' compelling yearning for their abducted kids and siblings. But now, at least the Yokotas may have to face it head-on a week or 10 days from now if the result of the DNA testing turns out positive.

The Yokotas are really admirable people. They have tried very hard, with great perseverance, to reveal the whole truth about the state crime that Kim Jong-Il's father committed, where the Japanese government and media have played the role of the post facto accomplices in one way or the other. In May this year, Shigeru and Sakie Yokota, along with their colleagues in the group were assaulted by the media and the "public opinion" because they didn't appreciate Koizumi's "feat" that he claimed to have accomplished at the second summit meeting with Kim Jong-Il despite the fact that he actually came back from Pyongyang empty-handed as far as the abduction issue was concerned. Ever since Megumi's parents had to keep a low profile and their media exposure has quickly diminished as the Soga-Jenkins family affairs, which had nothing, whatsoever, to do with the abduction issue, took center stage.

Now that the Soga-Jenkins family has been reunited and settled down in Japan, possibly against the will of Charles Robert Jenkins, the army deserter-turned abductee (see the TFP article "Charles Robert Jenkins, a deserter or an abductee?" posted on September 25), the Yokotas and their colleagues are coming back to center stage. At the Monday night press conference, Shigeru Yokota, who had just turned 72, looked to have remained the same modest and unpretentious person we'd known. But now he looked a little weaker and spoke more stutteringly. When concluding his speech, he murmured almost inaudibly that if the ashes test positive, then it just can't be helped. And yet, the Yokotas and their colleagues looked to be trying hard to refrain from criticizing the Japanese government. Instead they were venting mounting frustrations on North Korea. But it was apparent that they knew they were taking out their anger on the wrong government. At the May 22 press conference that ensued the second summit meeting in Pyongyang, Fumiko Hirano, elder sister of Rumiko Masumoto, one of the 10 abductees, said to the effect that she had thought the problem facing them lay with North Korea but now she had to admit it lay with Japan represented by such a prime minister who had played into the hands of Kim Jong-Il time and again.

On the part of the government, their take on the outcome of the working-level talks was, sort of, mixed. Koizumi reportedly said that the government found the outcome dissatisfactory but he quickly added: "We should hold another talk. I don't think this is over yet." As to "possible" economic sanctions, his comment was: "We are still cautious (about actual imposition of sanctions)." An LDP executive later gave reporters the rationale on PM's behalf: "Even if economic sanctions are imposed, the situation won't improve. Instead that may harden North Korea's attitude." But we know why Koizumi's patience is so inexhaustible. As a matter of fact he has eyed all along the huge amount of reparation Kim Jong-Il will certainly demand when normalizing diplomatic ties between the two nations. He expects a good part of the reparation to boomerang to his constituencies.

Yabunaka, himself, as well as his boss and colleagues at the MOFA, has also acknowledged a certain progress made on the part of North Korea. A senior Foreign Ministry official reportedly said: "I guess North Korea cooperated with us in its own way (although the outcome was insufficient)."

The Daily Yomiuri wrote in its November 17 edition that North Korea was "suspiciously amenable" this time. The DY added that North Korea "acceded to many of Japan's demands as to how the talks (and "field research") should be conducted. .... (North Korea) dispatched a Mercedes-Benz to take Yabunaka and (other members) from the airport to downtown Pyongyang on the first day of the talks," and so on and so forth. And among other things, Kim Jong-Il gave them the big gift of the 7 containers full of junk and air.

More and more it looks likely that by the time of the 10th round of the working-level talks, North Korea will have fully complied with Japan's demands and the family members will have possibly been convinced that the 8 are dead and the 2 have never entered the Kim Jong-Il's rotten fiefdom. But I am reasonably sure that if things turns out that way, still Koizumi will keep on saying he will normalize diplomatic relations with North Korea at any cost.

In the worst, and now likeliest, case scenario, we may be seeing Koizumi's approval rating stay only slightly below 50%, as it stands as of today, even after the normalization with the nation which is now on the verge of collapse or annexation by China, thanks to his media lapdogs and other toadies. The most important role the media will have played by then will be to gradually immunize the family members and the entire nation against the reality with the ordeal inflicted on these people by both governments, so they can soft-land at the bitter truth.

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