Tokyo – Japanese families who believe their relatives were abducted by North Korea want the International Criminal Court to investigate the disappearances and punish the country’s leader, a support group said Friday.
They will submit a petition to the court next week, at a time when attention is already heavily focused on Pyongyang and its nuclear weapons and missile drive.
North Korea admitted in 2002 that it had dispatched agents to kidnap 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s who were tasked with training its spies in Japanese language and customs.
Five of the abductees were allowed to return to Japan but Pyongyang has insisted – without producing solid evidence – that the eight others are dead.
Tokyo says at least 17 people were abducted, but a support group for relatives believes the disappearance of up to 470 Japanese may be linked to North Korea.
Families of the missing, and their supporters, will submit a petition “seeking punishment of (North Korea’s) Kim Jong-Un and request a probe’’ into the suspected abductions of at least 100 Japanese, support group official Kazuhiro Araki told AFP.
The draft petition alleges that ‘’not a small percentage’’ of the abductees are still alive, and “their freedom is severely restricted,’’ the Kyodo news agency reported.
The move comes as regional tensions remain high over North Korean threats.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe discussed the issue in Tokyo on Thursday, pledging to push for the conclusion of a major new bilateral security pact.