DPRK: Japanese Kidnappings (1977-1988)


Following the 1868 Meiji Restoration, Japan embarked upon a rapid and radical transformation of its political, military and social culture. These changes were motivated by the need to ‘modernise’ and successfully compete with the then rampant Western imperialist powers that had subjugated large areas of the world, and dominated trade in Asia through the perpetual threat of punitive military action. Japan adopted the pseudo-science of Social Darwinism (an idea rejected by Charles Darwin), which segregated the world into an imagined hierarchy of racial fitness. In its original form, it emanated from England, and propagated the lie that all ‘White’ Europeans were racially superior to all other ethnic and cultural groups in the world, which were categorised as such, in a descending scale of worthiness (with Asians assumed to be ‘superior’ to Africans, but ‘inferior’ to Whites, etc). The Japanese Meiji government modified this pseudo-science, and re-interpreted it to assume that the Japanese race was superior to all others. This also included the implicit idea that Japanese racial fitness was augmented (and even justified) by a ‘spiritual’ superiority. As Japan modernised its military along Western lines, its government embraced a fascistic form of administration and set about mimicking the Western habit of ‘colonisation’. As a consequence, Japan invaded and occupied large areas of the Pacific, and subjugated millions of people to its despotic rule (this included Korea, Taiwan and even Vietnam). All other ‘non-Japanese’ races were to be conquered and subdued into a state of servitude toward Japan and the Japanese people. This inherently ‘racist’ and rightwing attitude led directly to Japan’s invasion of China in the 1930’s, and to the Pacific War with the US.  The Japanese imperial forces kill and massacred hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children throughout Asia, which also included the mistreatment of and murder of numerous Western prisoners. Following Japan’s defeat after WWII, and its subsequent colonisation by the USA, the Japanese government, adopting as it does an anti-Communist agenda, refused to apologise to the people of Asia for the well-documented and hideous Crimes Against Humanity (including the infamous Unit 731 human experimentation) that its military forces committed throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s. Japan can get away with this attitude because it actively pursues American foreign policy in the region, and is politically (and militarily) protected by the US. Japan committed the most blatant and brutal acts of rape and murder throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s, but has never paid the price for its murderous actions due to the international influence of the USA (in this regard, Japan has much in common with the modern State of Israel). In-short, Japan has never formally apologised for the atrocities its forces committed during WWII, and still refuses to do so today.

According to both Russian and Chinese language sources, in 2002, the then leader of North Korea – Kim Jong Il – publically acknowledged that ‘rogue’ elements within the intelligence services of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) had initiated a programme of ‘kidnapping’ a non-specified number of Japanese citizens – but that the upper echelons of the DPRK government at the time had not been involved or informed. Kim Jong Il formally ‘apologised’ to the Japanese government on behalf of the DPRK government, and issued assurances that no further kidnappings would take place, and that the rogue elements that had carried-out this unofficial policy had been tried and imprisoned for their part in this illegal activity. Although Japan officially states that at least seventeen people over-all were kidnapped over a ten year period (some Japanese sources suggest a number as high as seventy!), the North Korean government stated that it only has evidence for thirteen kidnap victims. Furthermore, Kim Jong Il announced that the five kidnap victims that were still known to be alive (together with their children born in the DPRK) would be allowed to migrate back to Japan. Kim Jong Il suggested that although North Korean records appear to show that five Japanese kidnap victims entered the DPRK – it is unclear what exactly happened to the other eight Japanese kidnap victims (with Kim Jong Il stating that the DPRK could not comment on the other four victims suggested by the Japanese government). Much of these negotiations evolve around the ‘normalisation’ of Japanese-Chinese diplomatic relations. The problem is that China insists that Japan issues a formal apology for the deaths of the hundreds of thousands of innocent Chinese men, women and children murdered during the Japanese invasion during the 1930’s and 1940’s, with the Japanese government continuously refusing to do so, whilst worshipping its war-dead in Japan at the Yasukuni Shrine as ‘heroes’. The Japanese attitude is that the lives of ‘thirteen’ (or more) of its citizens are more important than the hundreds of thousands of its war-victims during the 1930’s and 1940’s – currently US foreign policy supports this hypothesis.

As matters stand, capitalist Japan pursues the anti-Communist agenda of the USA, and tirelessly works to portray (and undermine) the DPRK as an ‘evil’ and ‘despotic’ regime despite no evidence to support these claims. In reality, the DPRK attracts around 250,000 tourists annually – a figure that includes around 6,000 Westerners from Europe and the USA. These would suggest that the anti-DPRK propaganda of the Japan-USA axis is not working. Furthermore, even the usually anti-Communist Western press is beginning to acknowledge just how many North Korean defectors are opting to return to the DPRK, after experiencing first-hand, the terrible inequality found within capitalist South Korea. Although the DPRK Japanese kidnappings were deemed ‘unofficial’, it is interesting to ask ‘why’ they happened in the first place, as not all kidnappings happened on the Island of Japan, with at least two occurring in Europe. Within Chinese language sources on this matter, four other incidences of alleged DPRK kidnappings are mentioned, the victims of which were ‘non-Japanese’ in ethnic origin. These four examples all happened in 1978, and actually involved eight further people. Two were Chinese people kidnapped in Macau (which was still a Portuguese colony at the time), one was a Thai national also kidnapped in Macau, one was a Romanian kidnapped in Italy, and four were Lebanese women kidnapped in Beirut and allegedly taken to Pyongyang. (Apparently the PLO was instrumental in securing their eventual release). What is peculiar is that ‘Doina Bumbea’ captured in Rome was originally from the Communist country of Romania! However, it must be stated that the DPRK refuses to accept that these ‘missing’ non-Japanese people were kidnapped by North Korean agents, and considering that the original purpose of the kidnaps was to acquire ethnic Japanese tutors to ‘correctly’ teach North Korean intelligence agents ‘how to think and act like a Japanese’, this DPRK claim might well be correct. If Kim Jong Il had not admitted at least some Japanese kidnaps in 2002, I would have stated that this story was untrue and typical of anti-DPRK Cold War propaganda. However, it does seems that this story has grown well beyond the scope of material reality, and taken on a ‘mythic’ reality all of its own. The DPRK certainly does not admit to more than twenty kidnappings of Japanese citizens – and yet outspoken protesters in Japan have asserted that as many as seventy Japanese people have been kidnapped. This hysteria reminds me of the false anti-Semitic allegations aimed at Jewish communities, which falsely claimed that Jews ‘stole’ Christian babies to be used in satanic rituals! It seems that Japanese and Western conspiracy theorists are taking examples of ordinary people going missing in the world, and simply accusing the DPRK of kidnapping them. Indeed, since 2002, the Japanese government has continued to level all kinds of insane allegations at North Korea (with US-backing), that has involved the United Nations (UN) accusing the DPRK of committing Human Rights violations – even though neither the UN, Japan or the US has one shred of evidence. Furthermore, those who were released back to Japan have gone on record confirming the DPRK version of events.

Chinese Language References:



Russian Language References:



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