By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
TOKYO, Japan – Roughly 16 years after North Korea openly admitted to kidnapping 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s, families of the victims hope to bring an International Criminal Court (ICC) case against Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea.
While Pyongyang says only 13 Japanese citizens were kidnapped, Tokyo officially reports 17 abductees. The U.N. believes the number is closer to 100. Moreover, the Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea quotes 470 disappearances related to North Korean kidnappings.
During negotiations in 2002 about the kidnappings, North Korea returned 5 Japanese citizens. They reported that the rest had died. However, Japan believed that the information provided to confirm the deaths was insufficient and suspicious.
Eight Japanese citizens will travel to the ICC in The Hague. Several members of this party had families members taken. They believe that their family members are still alive and are severely repressed.
Their goal is to petition the ICC to open a case against Kim Jong Un for crimes against humanity. The charge is for not providing adequate information regarding the deaths of the kidnapped Japanese. The petition calls for an investigation of more than 100 kidnappings. Yet, these events happened under Kim Jong Un’s father and grandfather.
The representatives hope this decision (and ensuing criminal case) will bring an international focus to the kidnappings.
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