Shinshuren Urges Japan to Step Up Efforts to Return Japanese Abducted by North Korea
Two Japanese religious leaders visited the cabinet office of the Japanese government in Tokyo on February 4 to present a petition calling on the government to work harder for the return of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea. They handed the petition to Mr. Kansei Nakano, the minister of state for abduction issues. The petition, bearing 377,298 signatures collected by 22 member organizations of Shinshuren (Federation of New Religious Organizations of Japan), urged the government to bring about the immediate return of all abducted Japanese.
The religious leaders who presented the petition were Shinshuren's chairman, Rev. Seiho Okano, and its vice chairman, Rev. Hidetani Hozumi. Rev. Okano is the "Dharma successor" (leader) of Gedatsu-kai, and Rev. Hidetane Hozumi is president of Taiwa Kyodan. Rissho Kosei-kai is also a member organization of Shinshuren. Also present were Mr. Tenzo Okumura, chairman of the Special Committee on North Korean Abductions and Other Issues of the lower house of the Japanese parliament, and Mr. Shinkun Haku, chairman of the Special Committee on North Korean Abduction Issues and Related Matters of the upper house.
The abductions began in the late 1970s. Last year Shinshuren decided that the government was not doing enough for the victims and carried out its petition drive from July to November.
Rev. Okano explained the background of the campaign to Mr. Nakano and handed him the petition. He also explained Shinshuren's work for world peace and human welfare. He asked Mr. Nakano to forward the petition to the prime minister and urge him to take steps to help the kidnap victims.
Mr. Nakano said he had met representatives of the families of kidnap victims as well as of missing persons whom the government fears were abducted by North Korea. He described the government's efforts to find and repatriate them and said the government would welcome any suggestions from the general public for bringing this about.
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