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Japanese Families Oppose Food Aid to North Korea

Date Posted: 2000-03-10

Several members of the families of missing Japanese - allegedly abducted by North Korean agents more than 20 years ago - staged a sit-in on Monday to protest against the governmentís plan to resume food aid to the Stalinist state. Some 50 people gathered in front of Japanís Foreign Ministry demanding the government not give food to a country that has shown no willingness to discuss the abduction issue.

Japan is considering resuming food aid to the famine-hit Stalinist state for the first time in more than two years in a bid to help restart talks on normalizing ties with North Korea. Government sources said last week that Tokyo may give some 100,000 tons of rice to Pyongyang through the United Nations to try to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table. One of the main sticking points in the bilateral talks is the issue of 10 Japanese allegedly kidnapped by North Korea and which scuttled normalization talks at the start of the 1990s.

Tokyo is seeking an investigation while Pyongyang denies the charges. Reports of the kidnappings have come from testimony by North Korean defectors to the South, while Pyongyang denies any such abductions.

Japan has said at least 10 Japanese were kidnapped by North Korea in the late 1970s. North Korea has denied the allegations. The families are opposed to resuming aid.

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