The Yokotas at Dec. 8 press conference
This is not really a news. But on Wednesday, December 8, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda announced, in his signature way of briefing the media, with a blank, emotionless, brainless-looking face, that the cremated remains North Korea had said were those of abductee Megumi Yokota had tested negative DNA-wise, and that the National Police Agency, with the help of forensic experts at Teikyo University, had concluded the ashes were from two unidentified persons other than Megumi Yokota.
According to the December 9 edition of the Daily Yomiuri, an NPA senior official said of this feat: "We were finally able to reach a conclusion with the help of advanced technology and experience. The North Koreans must be panicking." I don't think so. Kim Jong-Il must have grinned at the news, saying to himself "Hmmm, they have passed the certification exam I gave them."
Hosoda added in the press briefing that the government is considering the
suspension of the second installment of the 250,000 tons of humanitarian
food aid as if he'd forgotten that his boss, Koizumi, has kept saying humanitarian
aid should be unlinked from the abduction issue since last May when he
visited his Pyongyang friend for the second summit meeting.
What was the way the media cooked all this like? As to the outstanding 125,000 tons of food aid, the Dec. 9 editorial of the DY (an English translation of the editorial run by its parent daily, the Yomiuri Shimbun) insists it should be canceled, rather than frozen. But the Yomiuri editors are still using the wrong tenses. They concluded the editorial by saying "North Korea must tell the truth or face economic sanctions by Japan," while they should have said "North Korea must have told the truth and now the economic sanctions must be imposed immediately." The DY, just like other Japanese newspapers, is not really good at tenses. Another example is the front page story headlined "DNA in remains not Yokota's". It has a subhead that reads: "Yokotas call for economic sanctions". But the fact is that the Yokotas and their colleagues in the liaison council for the families of abduction victims have called for all-out economic sanctions for more than one year now.
It's not only in terms of tense but also in terms of telling the truth that the DY and other printed media in Japan are often wrong or inaccurate. Under the subhead "Yokotas call for economic sanctions", the anonymous Yomiuri reporter quotes Mrs. Yokota as saying "This case clearly shows how inhumane and heartless North Korea is." In another part of the same front-page story, there is a sentence that reads: "(The result of the DNA tests) is also likely to affect normalization talks .... as the families of those abducted by Pyongyang expressed anger at North Korea's conduct ..." Perhaps that's what Sakie Yokota told the reporters and North Korea is the party that these family members said they were directing their outrage at. And yet the DY reporter is not telling the whole truth because it's just that the family members have learned a bitter lesson since last May when the media and the "public opinion" assaulted them, though only verbally, on account of their lack of appreciation toward Koizumi's "feat" that he claimed to have accomplished at the second summit meeting in Pyongyang while in fact the PM came back from North Korea virtually empty-handed. Ever since these family members have learned that they should redirect their anger to the wrong government to maintain the momentum they could build up thus far.
And what was Koizumi's reaction to the result of the DNA tests? Aside from just lodging another weak protest over the fake bones together with a request to hold a meeting (over what?), which the North Korean Embassy in Beijing turned down right away, the PM reportedly said on Wednesday that talks with North Korea should be continued, and that he didn't find it advisable to impose economic sanctions immediately. This statement must have made Mitoji Yabunaka, head of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, feel relieved because Koizumi effectively reassured him of job security. Actually when Yabunaka brought along with him the 7-containerful rubbish and air from Pyongyang in mid-November, the group of the family members of the abductees criticized him for his weak-kneed attitude toward his North Korean counterparts. At that time he retorted by saying that during the third round of the working-level talks, he had sometimes made a table-banging at the signs of unfaithfulness on the part of the North Korean delegation. Obviously this self-proclaimed professional diplomat thinks it matters whether he bangs on the table or he pats the naughty Kim Jong-Il on the head.
Last month the ruling LDP and the government made silly enough a move to announce that they had decided to divide their sanction plan into five phases as if to minimize the impact of the sanctions to be felt in Pyongyang. And now that we've learned the best thing we can expect from our incompetent government is to implement the first step of this 5-phase plan, we must ask ourselves such questions as: "What if the next wild card Kim Jong-Il is going to play is to order the production of uncremated remains of Megumi Yokota, the real ones this time?" Would Koizumi implement the second phase then? (Postscript: According to the Dec.10 edition of the Sankei Shimbun, North Korean residents in Japan remitted in 2003 a minimal JPY 110 million, roughly translated into USD 1 million, to their homeland.) Patience on the part of the family members has long been exhausted. The same is true with anyone who is yet to be out of his/her mind.
However, I think Koizumi's patience toward North Korea is inexhaustible for a good reason. As I have already pointed out in "Seven containerful rubbish from Pyongyang farce" (TFP, November 18), he is just dying for a slice of the cake named "reparation". Some say Pyongyang will demand, or has already demanded, a huge amount of money that dwarfs the USD 800 million compensation Japan paid to South Korea, based on the 1965 Japan-ROK Basic Treaty, to redress the wartime losses and damages inflicted on the people living in the southern half of the peninsula. Chances are Koizumi will have to have the reparation disguised as ODA to mitigate the financial/political impact just like his distant predecessor Masayoshi Ohira did with China in 1979. But just the same Koizumi and his cronies find it an irresistiblly mouth-watering deal to make part of the disguised reparation boomerang to them. Maybe even I would keep dancing with Kim Jong-Il until dawn if I were him. The local media have dubbed Koizumi the "feat-hungry PM". But actually he's a greed-driven PM.
As I said the most recent development in the abduction issue is not really a news. And yet it has left me wondering all a new why the Japanese media keep lying despite they cannot expect a single yen from the normalization of diplomatic ties between the two impossible countries. It's about time that the Japan's media stopped lying and stymieing the whole truth about the abduction issue from their counterparts overseas. More specifically, the Japan's media should stop using the wrong tenses and quoting these people as saying what the media have actually led, or even forced, them to say.
Perhaps it would be more politically correct with the DY and its parent Yomiuri Shimbun to paraphrase my proposition like this: The DY and the Yomiuri Shimbun must tell the truth or face the loss of one-10,300,000th of their subscription revenues.