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Learning English - Words in the News
10 November, 2004 - Published 12:03 GMT
Japan & North Korea discuss missing
Relatives of Japanese abductees

A Japanese delegation has started talks in North Korea to try to clarify the fate of at least ten Japanese citizens who were abducted by the communist state in the 1970s and 80s. The North Korean government says the ten are either dead or were never taken to North Korea. This report from Jonathan Head:

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This is the third time Japanese officials have tried to get a convincing explanation from North Korea for the missing abductees. Two years ago five were allowed to return to Japan after the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il admitted for the first time that the secretive communist state had kidnapped a number of Japanese nationals. He said another eight had died, but he failed to explain how. This was a harsh blow for the families of missing people who'd waited for decades for news of them - and they've won strong public sympathy in Japan for their campaign for a full account.

In the two previous rounds of talks in Beijing, North Korean officials said little more about the fate of the abductees; this time the talks are taking place in Pyongyang, and the Japanese delegation is hoping to meet intelligence officers and to see documents that could offer more details. North Korea desperately wants improved ties with Japan to pave the way for more trade and aid. Japan also wants to settle the issue of the abductees in the hope it may improve progress in the talks over North Korea's nuclear programme.

Jonathan Head, BBC Tokyo Correspondent

Listen to the words

to clarify the fate of
to find out what happened to

kidnapped, when a person is taken away illegally

a convincing explanation
an explanation that can be believed

people who have been abducted

said that it was true

a harsh blow
a very strong and painful disappointment

a full account
a complete and honest explanation

desperately wants improved ties
reaaly wants to have a closer relationship

to pave the way for
to create a situation where something becomes more possible

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