June 28, 2017
We received with sadness and outrage the news that Otto Warmbier had died, a well-loved young man with a promising future, whose unconscionable death was caused at the hands of North Korean authorities. First, we would like to convey our deep condolences to Mr. Warmbier’s bereaved family as well as to all Americans.
North Korea previously acknowledged the abduction of Japanese citizens including some who were deceived into entering North Korea and then detained. The unjust detention of Mr. Warmbier is indistinguishable in its essence from those cases. The explanations given by the North Korean authorities’ regarding Mr. Warmbier’s “crime” and his coma are entirely untrustworthy. We know this from our own experience.
For example, the death certificates presented by North Korean authorities in the case of Japanese abductees each had a different year and date yet the official stamp on each was in precisely the same location, revealing them to be copied and forged documents. Some victims were in their 20’s with no previous record of illness yet the improbable given “cause of death” was “heart attack”,
North Korea presented “ashes” said to be of some of the victims, from which the DNA of unrelated third parties was discovered. This was followed by North Korea’s preposterous claim that the victims’ bodies had been removed from their place of interment several years later and then cremated.
North Korea continues to hold at least three Americans in unjustified captivity
Just last September the U.S. House of Representatives adopted a resolution demanding that the U.S. Government investigate the whereabouts of another young man, Mr. David Sneddon, who disappeared in 2004 while in China’s Yunnan Province, including consideration of the possibility that he may have been abducted by North Korean agents operating in the area.
The tragic death of Mr. Warmbier at the hands of North Korea carries a powerful reminder of the dangers of waiting. For the sake of all victims, we demand that North Korea immediately release all Japanese, American and other victims, and we strongly appeal to the lawmakers and government officials of the United States and Japan for closer cooperation on these issues.
Shigeo Iizuka, Chairman
Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea (AFVKN)
Tsutomu Nishioka, Chairman
National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea (NARKN)
Takeo Hiranuma, Chairman
Parliamentarian League for Early Repatriation of Japanese Citizens Kidnapped by North Korea