Chairman of the National Public Safety Commission &
State Minister in Charge of Abduction Issue
Thursday, September 25, 2014, 17:00 - 18:00
Eriko Yamatani is the new State Minister in charge of ending one of Japan's most intractable problems – securing the return of citizens kidnapped by North Korean spies in the 1970s and 1980s.For the abductee families, her appointment is welcome. Soon after being appointed to the new Abe Cabinet, Shigeo Iizuka, who leads a group representing the families of abducted Japanese citizens, told reporters that the new minister "always shared our sentiments about the abductions and has been calling for the issue to be resolved soon."
Now is a critical time. The Abe administration has invested considerable political capital in reopening diplomatic negotiations with Pyongyang. The North Korean government says it is conducting a full reinvestigation into the fate of the abductees and will inform Japan of the results.But this week, Pyongyang appeared to dash hopes of a quick resolution when it said that the investigation is still in its early stages and could take a year to complete.Whatever the outcome, the relationship between these two Cold War enemies will be impacted considerably by the outcome.
Minister Yamatani was first elected to the Diet in 2000 and has served on many important committees. Her experience in dealing with the abductions issue is a rich one, having previously served as Chief Secretary of LDP Special Mission Committee on the Abduction Issue, Member of the House of Councilors' Special Committee on the North Korea Abduction Issue, LDP Shadow Cabinet Minister for the Abduction Issue, and Chairwoman of the LDP Headquarters for North Korean Abductions.Please come to the Club and listen to one of Japan's top authorities on this sensitive political and diplomatic issue.