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N Korea says wants to arrest Japan-based activists

Written by: Staff
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SEOUL, Mar 27 (Reuters) North Korea said on Monday it had issued arrest warrants for Japanese-based activists who helped people leave the communist country, after Tokyo issued warrants for two North Koreans suspected of abducting Japanese.

Anger has simmered in Japan over the abduction issue, which Tokyo says must be resolved before the two countries can establish diplomatic ties.

A spokesman for North Korea's Ministry of People's Security said the Japanese-based activists had committed a ''grave infringement upon our national sovereignty and safety of citizens,'' the North's official KCNA news agency reported.

''Under the manipulation of U.S. and Japanese intelligence and plot-breeding bodies and right-wing conservative forces, anti-DPRK organisations and individuals abducted our citizens in broad daylight in the guise of a 'non-governmental organisation' under the pretext of 'humanitarianism','' the spokesman said.

DPRK is short for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. North Korea wants Japan to extradite the four, the spokesman said.

The four people named in the arrest warrants work for human rights organisations that describe themselves as helping North Koreans to flee the country.

In February, Japanese authorities said they had issued arrest warrants for two North Korean agents they suspect of kidnapping Japanese in 1978. Japan has also moved to place them on an Interpol wanted listed.

North Korea has admitted abducting 13 people in the 1970s and 1980s to help train spies. Five of them have returned to Japan with their children, and Pyongyang says the other eight are dead.

But Japan has been pressing for further information on the eight and another three who Tokyo says were also kidnapped.

The feud over the kidnappings, the main obstacle to improved ties, intensified after DNA tests showed that bones handed over to Japanese diplomats more than a year ago were not those of Japanese abductees, as Pyongyang had claimed.

REUTERS SY PC1944

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