Japanese man detained in North Korea: media

A police man directs traffic on a street lined with apartment buildings in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this June 15, 2018 photo. (AP)
Updated 11 August 2018
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Japanese man detained in North Korea: media

  • Tokyo has advised Japanese citizens against travel to North Korea as part of its economic sanctions on the country
  • North Korea has a long history of arresting foreigners on spying charges and then using them as diplomatic pawns

TOKYO: A Japanese man has recently been detained in North Korea, a potential diplomatic dilemma as Tokyo pushes to hold a summit with Pyongyang, local media reported Saturday.
It was not immediately clear when or why the unidentified man was held but he may be charged with spying, the Asahi Shimbun reported, quoting government sources.
“Securing the man’s safety is the top priority but it is possible the North Korean side might make use of the case as a bargaining chip for its negotiations with Japan,” a source close the Japanese government told the paper.
Further details, such as the purpose of the man’s visit to North Korea, were not immediately available.
A foreign ministry official declined to confirm the news reports “due to the nature of such a case.”
“But the government is taking action and gathering information,” the official told AFP.
Tokyo has advised Japanese citizens against travel to North Korea as part of its economic sanctions on the country.
North Korea has a long history of arresting foreigners on spying charges and then using them as diplomatic pawns.
In 1999, a Japanese newspaper reporter in North Korea was detained for about two years on spying charges, Kyodo News reported.
Japan has largely maintained a hard line on Pyongyang — which fired multiple test missiles toward Japanese territory — and has long pushed for movement on citizens who were abducted decades ago by North Korean agents.
But reports suggest Tokyo is considering a summit soon between Kim and Abe in the wake of South Korea and Washington’s recent diplomatic detente with Pyongyang. Japanese media have floated a possible meeting on the sidelines of an international forum in Russia’s Vladivostok next month.
“Ultimately, I myself will have to directly face chairman Kim Jong Un and engage in dialogue and resolve the nuclear, missile and, above all, the all-important abduction issue, and then build new Japan-North Korea relations,” Abe said Monday.
During historic talks with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, Kim reportedly said he was open to a meeting with Abe.


Members of first all-female Afghan orchestra missing in Slovakia

Updated 3 min 47 sec ago
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Members of first all-female Afghan orchestra missing in Slovakia

BRATISLAVA: Police in Slovakia said on Thursday they were searching for four members of Afghanistan’s first all-female orchestra who went missing from their hotel after performing at a local festival.
Zohra, an ensemble of 35 teenagers and young women musicians played a concert on Saturday at a festival in the western town of Trencin, some 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Bratislava, near the Czech border.
Four members went missing from their hotel on Sunday, Slovak police said.
“I can confirm that the search for two female teenagers and two female adults from Afghanistan is ongoing,” Pavol Kudlicka, a spokesperson for the Trencin regional police, told AFP on Thursday.
He added that the musicians returned to their hotel after the concert but went missing the next morning.
“Due to legal reasons and the ongoing investigation no names can be disclosed for now,” Kudlicka added.
Local Slovak media reported that some orchestra members had said that one of the girls had a cousin in Germany.
Some members of Zohra are orphans or from poor families.
They have faced death threats in their homeland where music was banned during the Taliban’s repressive 1996-2001 rule.
Music is still frowned upon in much of Afghan society, which is tightly segregated by gender.
Despite the disappearance, the Zohra orchestra, named after a Persian goddess of music, played several concerts in western Slovakia this week.
They have performed at home and abroad, notably at the closing the World Economic Forum in Davos two years ago.