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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 January, 2005, 10:02 GMT
N Korea abductions row 'settled'
North Korea said this photo showed Megumi Yokota as a young woman (file photo)
Megumi Yokota's parents believe she is still alive in the North
North Korea says the issue of missing Japanese nationals has been "settled", despite Japan's calls for further investigation.

The statement appeared to rule out further talks on the abductions.

Pyongyang has admitted kidnapping some Japanese to train its spies, but denies any are still alive in the country. Japan is sceptical and wants proof.

The row has led Japan to threaten sanctions against the North, a move which would inflame tensions further.

"The DPRK [North Korea] feels no need to have inter-governmental contact with Japan any longer now that the 'abduction issue' has been settled... the DPRK has made all sincere efforts it can. And it explicitly states to the Japanese side that there will be no 'reinvestigation into the issue'," North Korea's state news agency KCNA said.
JAPAN'S MISSING
Sakie Yokota, whose daughter Megumi was abducted by North Korea, shows three photos provided by North Korea of her daughter  (file photo)
Snatched in the '70s and '80s
Used as cultural trainers for N Korean spies
Five allowed home in 2002
Five children now freed from N Korea
Eight said to be dead, others missing

Tokyo played down the significance of the statement, saying it was seeking a direct response from the North Korean government.

"There have been cases in the past where talks moved forward despite such things," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda.

The row has escalated since a Japanese delegation visited the North in November and returned with the alleged remains of two missing Japanese whom Pyongyang said had died.

But Japan said last month that DNA tests proved the remains in fact belonged to several other people.

Tokyo has already suspended food aid to Pyongyang after determining the results of the DNA tests, and is under strong public pressure to impose economic sanctions on the North.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has previously indicated that sanctions - which could involve restricting Japanese port calls by North Korean vessels, remittances from Koreans living in Japan to the North, and imports of North Korean foods such as sea food and specialist mushrooms - would be a last resort.

North Korea has warned that sanctions would be tantamount to a "declaration of war".

Pyongyang admitted in 2002 to abducting 13 Japanese nationals, who were to be used as cultural trainers for North Korean spies.

Five were allowed to return to Japan, while North Korea said the others had died.




SEE ALSO:
Japan-N Korea kidnap row hots up
24 Dec 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan fury over abductee remains
08 Dec 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Progress on Japanese abductees
12 Nov 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan upset over N Korea missing
12 Aug 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Heartbreak over Japan's missing
11 Aug 04 |  Asia-Pacific


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