Gov't to reinvestigate past marine accidents over N. Korean abductions

The government plans to reinvestigate marine accidents in waters surrounding Japan in the 1970s and 1980s to see if they may be connected with abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korea, Keiji Furuya, state minister in charge of the issue of North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals, said Friday.

Furuya decided to conduct the investigations following a news report that a former high-ranking official of the Korean People's Army admitted that abductions of Japanese fishermen had occurred in the 1980s.

"We want to reinvestigate what should be reinvestigated," Furuya told a press conference.

The government is expected to probe the accidents in collaboration with the Japan Coast Guard and relevant entities.

"It is the duty of the government to protect the lives and properties of the Japanese people. It is natural to conduct reinvestigations into cases which might be linked to abductions," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a separate news conference.

As for a South Korean daily's report that the son of a Japanese woman abducted by North Korea in 1970s may be among the group of defectors recently sent back from Laos to the North, Furuya said, "We are gathering information through diplomatic channels."