Japan's abduction issue minister leaves for U.S.

Keiji Furuya, state minister in charge of the issue of North Korea's abduction of Japanese nationals, left Thursday for Washington to seek international cooperation in rescuing those taken to the reclusive country in the 1970s and 1980s.

Furuya told reporters before his departure that he will "call on the United States and other countries to make the utmost effort" to resolve the abduction issue. He said his U.S. visit is aimed at "forming an alliance against North Korea."

The minister also said a relationship of trust has been built between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama and that Pyongyang should be aware that its provocative actions "offer no solutions."

Furuya will participate in symposiums on the abduction issue in Washington and New York, the first to be organized in the United States by the Japanese government. Family members of Japanese abductees will also speak at the events to seek support from U.S. and United Nations officials.

The Japanese government has identified 17 Japanese citizens who were abducted by North Korean agents. Five of them were repatriated to Japan in 2002.