Viewing cable 08TOKYO1843

08TOKYO18432008-07-06 22:46:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tokyo
DE RUEHKO #1843/01 1882246
O 062246Z JUL 08
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TOKYO 001843 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/02/2018 
Classified By: Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer for reason 1.4 (d) 
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: The Ambassador July 2 invited to his 
residence Shigeru and Sakie Yokota, parents of 13-year old 
abductee Megumi Yokota to discuss the recent decision to 
being the delisting process to remove North Korea from the 
Department's States Sponsors of Terrorism list.  The Yokotas 
were accompanied by Shigeo Iizuka, chairman of the 
Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North 
Korea (ADVKN) and Teruaki Masumoto, ADVKN Secretary General. 
Just prior to meeting with the Ambassador, the Yokotas had 
appeared at a press conference sponsored by the Foreign 
Correspondent's Club of Japan.  The Yokotas and the ADVKN 
officers expressed gratitude for the President's June 26 
remarks about the abductees, but regretted that the delisting 
process has been launched.  The Yokotas were more 
understanding, agreeing that leverage remains and that Japan, 
the United States, and others must work together to assure a 
denuclearized Korean peninsula and a resolution to the 
abduction issue.  END SUMMARY. 
¶2. (C) The Ambassador told the Yokotas, Iizuka, and Masumoto 
that he realized the decision to remove North Korea from the 
terrorism list might be a difficult one for the families to 
understand, and he wanted to explain the process, answer any 
questions they might have, and assure them that the President 
and the United States remain resolved to achieving a 
successful resolution of the abduction issue.  It is also 
important, he continued, to let North Korea and the rest of 
the world know that the United States continues to be serious 
about this issue and will work closely with Japan to continue 
to bring pressure on the North to adequately address this 
issue.  The need to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear 
weapons remains our main priority, but the North Koreans also 
agreed to address humanitarian issues which, in our view, 
clearly includes the fate of the abductees.  Progress with 
the North Koreans has been slow, but they have begun to 
disable their nuclear reactor at Yongbyon have provided 
documentation, and have acknowledged our concern with their 
highly enriched uranium program and proliferation activities. 
 Based on the concept of "action for action" we then 
announced that we would take steps to remove North Korea from 
our terrorism list.  We realize that the North has only taken 
small steps and that the families, as do we, would like to 
see much more progress.  But the North has also agreed to 
reopen the investigation into the abduction cases after years 
of adamantly stating they consider the case closed.  They 
wouldn't have agreed to this without the pressure exerted by 
the United States. 
¶3. (C) Iizuka replied by stating that the families very much 
appreciated the President's remarks on June 26 that the U.S. 
will not forget the abductees, but have always believed that 
delisting meant so much to North Korea that it would have a 
great impact on them.  Accordingly, the families think it is 
regrettable that the U.S. has commenced the delisting 
process.  He thinks that once North Korea is off the list, it 
will become "foolish" and think it is in a stronger position, 
or that the sanctions imposed by Japan will not be observed. 
The Ambassador agreed that it was important to the North 
Koreans that they be removed from the list.  But it is 
important for the North to understand that being taken off 
the list and then simply agreeing to reinvestigate the 
abductions cases is not enough.  Deeds are more important 
than words, and the United States and Japan will both be 
looking to the North Koreans for sincere, serious actions. 
The U.S. will be watching closely for real progress during 
the 45-day delisting notification period.  And although much 
of the focus will be on the nuclear issue we'll continue to 
tell the North Koreans they must also seriously address the 
abduction issue.  In addition, the North must understand that 
the only way it can ever hope to get economic assistance from 
Japan will be to solve this problem. 
¶4. (C)  Masumoto also thanked the Ambassador for receiving 
TOKYO 00001843  002 OF 003 
them, but took a harder line on the delisting, insisting that 
by taking North Korea off the list the U.S. was giving up an 
important pressure point.  He also expressed the 
misunderstanding, which was corrected by the Ambassador, that 
North Korea was on the list as a result of their involvement 
in the abduction issue.  Masumoto then said that what the 
families fear the most is that the North will engage in some 
sort of token investigation, agree to return three or four 
abductees, then kill the remainder, which he claimed numbered 
over one hundred.  Accordingly, he said, the families want 
the U.S. to wait until the final outcome of the abductee 
issue before delisting.  The best approach, he asserted, is 
to maintain as much pressure as possible.  He also questioned 
why the U.S. was treating North Korea more leniently than it 
had treated Libya, which wasn't taken off the list until it 
had accepted responsibility for the Pan Am 103 attack, turned 
over the suspects, and agreed to pay compensation to the 
¶5. (C) The Ambassador replied to Masumoto by asking him 
whether it was his view that there should be no negotiations 
at all with the North, and said that if this course of action 
was followed, there would have been no progress on either the 
denuclearization or abductee issues.  Masumoto simply replied 
it is better to maintain a hard line, noting that Kim Jong-Il 
has no problem watching two or three million North Koreans 
die of starvation and is easily capable of killing all the 
abductees just to be through with the matter.  The Ambassador 
agreed that this may very well be so, but pointed out that if 
this were true, the abductees would be at risk even without 
negotiations.  He reminded Masumoto that for the past six 
years the North has been insisting that the abductee case is 
closed, but as a result of negotiations, they are now willing 
to address this matter again.  That's a small but significant 
step.  It is our hope that when the North Koreans realize 
that the United States and Japan both want this to happen the 
issue will be addressed seriously. 
¶6. (C)  Mr. Yokota said he shared the Ambassador's opinion: 
the abduction issue will not be solved until the nuclear 
issue is resolved, and what North Korea wants at the end of 
the day is economic assistance from the U.S. and Japan, not 
only China and/or Russia.  If Japan steadfastly adheres to 
the position that there can be no normalization while the 
abduction issue is unresolved the North Koreans will have to 
solve this problem to Japan's satisfaction.  Mrs. Yokota 
concurred, telling the Ambassador that at their press 
conference right before the meeting, she had said we must all 
work together to advance the Six Party Talks process.  "What 
we have on our mind is the same as you."  She also emphasized 
the need for a strong and effective verification process, 
noting that although the North Koreans had blown up a cooling 
tower, there may be other facilities elsewhere that are still 
operational.  She said the 45-day period is short and that 
she hopes the verification process can be completed.  "We 
cannot let the North Koreans hide nuclear facilities."  The 
Ambassador agreed that this is why the verification process 
is so important, but cautioned her that the 45-day period 
would be just the start of the process.  "We want a process 
that will guarantee that the North Koreans give up their 
nuclear weapons and not reacquire them later," the Ambassador 
¶7. (C)  Iizuka asked the Ambassador for his judgment about 
whether the North will really cooperate with a renewed 
investigation.  It is likely, replied the Ambassador, that 
the North will do as little as they possibly can.  It will be 
necessary to maintain pressure on them, and we will stress 
that we expect them to engage in a credible investigation 
that will be one that people can believe when it's completed. 
 Mrs. Yokota asked whether the Ambassador was aware of any 
secret intelligence about the fate of the abductees, and he 
replied that he was not.  She ended the conversation with the 
Ambassador by saying she and her husband understand the 
position of the United States: "North Korea is like a stone; 
nothing will come out of it.  We understand the U.S. is 
trying different routes to make the stone softer, and we must 
all work together to move forward." 
TOKYO 00001843  003 OF 003 
¶8. (U) Just prior to meeting with the Ambassador, the Yokotas 
participated in their sixth professional luncheon with the 
Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan (FCCJ).  The couple 
expressed disappointment at the U.S. decision to delist North 
Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, but acknowledged that 
delisting was not linked directly to Japan, and would benefit 
North Korea very little.  They credited U.S. pressure for 
bringing about a change in North Korea's policy of claiming 
that the abductions issue has been resolved, and referred to 
that recent development as "an important point in resolving 
the abductions issue."  They also thanked President Bush and 
Secretary Rice for understanding their concerns and not 
forgetting the abductees. 
¶9. (U) At the same time, the Yokota's asserted, the abduction 
issue must be resolved bilaterally between Japan and North 
Korea.  They were dismayed that Japanese officials had not 
briefed them on the agreement to lift sanctions in exchange 
for a reinvestigation into the abductions issue, but welcomed 
the decision not to grant energy assistance until real 
progress has been achieved.  Japan still has strong cards 
with which to play, they noted, even without the abductions 
issue.  The abductions issue requires a diplomatic solution, 
and North Korea needs to be persuaded that Japan and other 
nations ultimately want to be on friendly terms.  That said, 
there is a very real fear among the families that diplomatic 
fumbling could prevent the return of the abductees. 
¶10. (U) The Yokotas refused to state a clear preference for 
either "pressure" or "dialogue."  The policy of strengthening 
sanctions under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had not 
proven effective, they argued.  At the same time, current 
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's emphasis on dialogue could 
easily backfire, and efforts by a supra-partisan 
parliamentary league prioritizing normalization are unlikely 
to bear fruit.  Whereas Abe had made clear that resolution of 
the abductions issue meant return of all abductees, Fukuda 
appears willing to lift sanctions in exchange for "progress." 
 The problem for the abductee families is that they have not 
been told who will measure that progress and how it will be 
defined.  Either way, they are concerned that any Japanese 
participation in a "sham" reinvestigation will only make 
Japan complicit in DPRK deception.  The Yokotas themselves 
said they do not plan to participate, even if invited, and 
are particularly worried that their abducted daughter 
Megumi's daughter (their granddaughter) might be used as a