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Abduction news from the Asahi (edited for length):

N. Korea announcer actually Japanese? – 08/15/2007
BY RYUICHI KITANO THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

A newscaster on state-run television in North Korea bears a striking resemblance to a Japanese who went missing off Tottori Prefecture in 1988, prompting an investigation into whether the two men are one and the same, sources said.

The government is comparing a photo of the announcer with those of Tomiyasu Yakura, who left Sakaiminato port in western Tottori Prefecture to go fishing in August 1988, and has not been seen since.

The announcer in North Korea goes by the name of Sin Bom, according to the Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea (COMJAN).

The announcer was photographed by a Japanese who visited Pyongyang on March 15.

At that time, he served as an interpreter at the Koryo Hotel for the Japanese visitor.

The COMJAN, a citizens group working to rescue Japanese abducted by North Korea, recorded his voice, which was aired in broadcasts, and voiceprints of Yakura’s father and mother.

It asked experts on audio engineering to judge whether the voiceprints are similar to those of Yakura’s parents.

Masatsugu Hashimoto, professor of anthropology at Tokyo Dental College, compared the photo of the announcer with one of Yakura.

Hashimoto concluded there is an extremely high possibility that Sin and Yakura are the same person.

Yakura’s family, meantime, plans to file a complaint with the local coast guard office and Tottori prefectural police as early as Aug. 21, alleging that insufficient efforts were made into the possibility that Yakura was abducted to North Korea.

The COMJAN announced in June that it had added Yakura to its list of Japanese citizens who are suspected of having been abducted by North Korea.(IHT/Asahi: August 15,2007)

Could North Korea be as lazy as this? If there was any chance that Yakura was abducted, why on earth would they let him meet with Japanese people or broadcast his face?

If it is confirmed as Yakura, then it will give Abe and his cronies the excuse to clamp down even further. Sure, North Korea hasn’t been particularly forthcoming in the past, but if it can be shown that they have hidden another Japanese abductee, then abduction fever might spike again.

The timing is important. The Six-Party Talks have finally made significant progress, despite Japan’s efforts. It appears as though COMJAN were sitting on this, perhaps waiting for the right time to remind the world that North Korea is a ‘terrorist’ state, that should not be rewarded for its ‘bad behaviour’.

All I can say is that I hope it doesn’t kick off something bigger. I’m close to finishing my dissertation and I’d hate for it to become outdated so quickly.

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