Families of Japanese individuals suspected to have been abducted by North Korea called on the worldwide community Friday to support their struggle to find out the fates of their loved ones ahead of their visit to the global Criminal Court next week.
"I hope, by filing this petition with the ICC, the prosecutors at the court as well as the worldwide community will hear what we have to say and understand such cruelties were inflicted on innocent citizens", Shoichi Osawa, who heads a group representing such relatives, said during a press conference in Tokyo.
Family members of Japanese citizens who may have been abducted by North Korea will go to the International Criminal Court next week to request that a prosecutor investigate the North's leader, Kim Jong Un.
They said the families will visit the ICC in The Hague to hand in an appeal to investigate if Kim can be held responsible for crimes against humanity.
North Korea has repeatedly pledged to reopen investigations into the fate of all missing Japanese, only to backtrack on those promises later.
"Arresting Kim Jong Un and bringing him in would be rather hard, but it's extremely important to show that there are human rights abuses taking place", he said.
While a 2014 United Nations report on North Korea says "it is probable that at least 100 Japanese nationals have been abducted" by Pyongyang, the Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea, a private organization set up in 2003, believes the disappearance of about 470 Japanese may have something to do with the country.
"Right now, with the Olympics, South Korea is really making a connection with the North, which we did not expect", Araki said, referring to talks between the two Koreas over the winter Olympics starting next month that have led to a thaw in cross-border ties.
One of the family members, Shoichi Osawa, said he hopes the group's charge will prompt more people around the world to learn about the abductions and compel North Korea to reflect on what it did.
The Japanese government officially recognizes 17 people as North Korean abduction victims beyond doubt.
North Korea admitted in 2002 it had kidnapped 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s to train spies, and five of them returned to Japan.