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Japan Urges N. Korea To Free Abducted Japanese Citizens

4/23/2012 9:01 AM ET

A Japanese Minister has made a radio appeal to North Korea urging the Communist nation to free Japanese citizens it had abducted.

Abduction Issue Minister Jin Matsubara was a guest on a radio program on Sunday that was broadcast from Seoul to North Korea. The program is produced by defectors from the North.

He said Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his government were doing all they could to rescue the abducted Japanese citizens as soon as possible.

In a message to the North Korean leadership, Matsubara said Japan would never normalize ties with the North until the issue was resolved. However, he added that Japan would not call Pyongyang to account if it admits that the kidnapped Japanese citizens, it says are dead, are still alive.

Matsubara said Japan was in a position to provide more humanitarian assistance than any other country if North Korea made progress on the abduction issue.

Matsubara is the first Japanese Abduction Issue Minister to appear on the radio program. His messages will be broadcast for a month from Monday, Japan's public broadcaster NHK reported.

North Korea admitted in 2002 that it had abducted 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s. The country allowed five of them to return home but says the other eight died. Japan says North Korea abducted four more people, but the North denies this.

by RTT Staff Writer

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