TOKYO, July 10 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese government rejected in its entirety a newspaper report that Tokyo has received from Pyongyang a list containing around 30 names of Japanese citizens living in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), some of whom had been kidnapped by DPRK agents in the 1970s and 1980s.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that such a list did not exist and was not presented to Tokyo by Pyongyang.
Suga was referring to a front page report carried by the Nikkei business daily, Japan's largest business daily, saying that following the erroneous report published by the business daily, the government will file a protest.
"It's clearly a false report," Suga, the government's top spokesperson told a regular press conference Thursday in response to the front page article that had ran on the popular business daily.
"All the reported facts are erroneous. There were no facts like that at all," Suga said of the article, which was the paper's headline story in that edition. "We are now preparing to protest," said Suga.
The Nikkei reported that DPRK officials provided the list of Japanese nationals living in the DPRK to Tokyo representatives, during bilateral negotiations held in Beijing on July 1, prior to Tokyo and Pyongyang agreeing to a quid pro quo deal that has seen Tokyo lift some of its unilateral sanctions on the DPRK in exchange for the reopening of investigations into the DPRK's abductions of Japanese nationals.
"What the paper reported did not take place in the meeting or during break time," Suga said, adding that, "the DPRK has never presented such a list since it agreed in late May to investigate the whereabouts of Japanese abductees."
But according to the Nikkei, the list shows the names, dates of births, occupation status and family composition of around 30 Japanese people, purportedly abducted by the DPRK.
The newspaper said that details contained on the list of abductees largely matched the information held by the Japanese authorities.
The Nikkei, a week earlier, ran a story saying a list containing a double-digit number of abductees had been presented by the DPRK to Japan during the Beijing meeting. But the government swiftly denied the report.
In 2002, the DPRK admitted to having abducted 13 Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, and then claimed the matter had already been settled with Japan, with five of the abductees being repatriated and the remaining eight being declared dead. But Japan at that time called on the DPRK for clearer evidence and a deal broke down between the two sides in 2008.
Currently, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seems content with the actions of the DPRK in as much as they have taken an unprecedented step in forming a special committee with a mandate to carry out serious investigations and make decisions at a state level, under the auspices of both the DPRK's National Defense Commission and the Ministry of State Security.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told a parliamentary committee recently that a visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had been discussed and the premier himself has hinted at a possible trip if the abductions proceedings hit a decisive stage. A tacit nod to potentially thawing relations between Tokyo and Pyongyang.
Former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi visited the DPRK in an official capacity in 2002 and 2004, in two separate bids to normalize ties between the two nations.