Commentary Magazine


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Missing

When Will North Korea Return Our Abductees? is the title of an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today by Kyoko Nakayama, a special advisor to Japan’s prime minister.

She is referring, of course, to the seventeen Japanese nationals, most of them young women, known to have been kidnapped in the late 1970′s and early 1980′s, seized from streets and beaches in Japan and taken by submarine to North Korea to be used as tutors in a school for spies. Five of these abductees were returned to Japan in 2002, and Tokyo is still seeking information on the fate of the others.

Later this month a tremendously important book will be published in this country, The Reluctant Communist, by Charles Robert Jenkins, an American soldier who deserted to North Korea in 1965, and spent the next forty years in captivity there. Jenkins married one of the Japanese abductees and was allowed to leave for Japan in 2004, where he wrote his memoirs.

One of many significant facts he reports in his book is that not only Japanese citizens were abducted. The North Korean, he maintains, were seizing people from all across Asia, and also luring to a life of slavery unsuspecting people from Europe and the Arab world.

Attention has rightly been focused on the fate of the Japanese citizens whose lives were cruelly stolen from them. But these other victims of Pyongyang are also be in need of rescue. Even if rescue is impossible, which it is, they deserve an accounting. That too is likely to be impossible until the evil regime in North Korea is destroyed.

When will that day arrive? It is impossible to say, but tomorrow would not be too soon.