On 4 July 2014, the DPRK Government formed a special investigative committee charged with a “comprehensive” enquiry into the the whereabouts and status of all Japanese nationals presently residing, or who have previously resided, in the DPRK. The investigative committee was formed by a “special mandate” of the DPRK National Defense Commission, the country’s highest authority, in accordance with an agreement between the governments of Japan and the DPRK and it “shall operate under a well-regulated command system of the Center.”
Although it was established under the pretext of re-investigating the whereabouts of Japanese nationals abudcted by DPRK operatives during the 1970s, the special investigative committee’s areas of enquiry will be “investigated in a simultaneous and parallel manner and the investigation will be conducted by way of holding interview, hearing testimony and touring the relevant field.”
According to an announcement disseminated by KCNA on 4 July the committee “will be invested with special mandate from the National Defence Commission of the DPRK to investigate all institutions and mobilize relevant institutions and persons concerned for the investigation any time when necessary.” The special investigative committee will consist of 30 officials drawn from the Ministry of State Security [MSS], the Ministry of People’s Security [MPS], the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces [MPAF, the DPRK Cabinet and the Workers’ Party of Korea [WPK; Korean Workers’ Party]. So Tae Ha, Vice Minister of State Security and NDC Councilor, was appointed Chairman of the Special Investigations Committee and will be supported by Kim Myong Chol, MSS Councilor, and Pak Yong Sik, MPS Department Director.
The DPRK’s special investigation committee will consist of four different panels:
- A panel tasked to investigate the remains of Japanese nationals buried in the DPRK will be led by Kim Hyon Chol of the Ministry of Land and Environmental Protection and will “take measures concerning various places where remains of Japanese are buried across the territory of the DPRK and conduct field survey and trial excavation on the basis of the existing information, testimonies, etc. and consult and take steps for handling remains.”
- A panel investigating Japanese nationals currently residing in the DPRK will be led by DPRK Red Cross Society Secretary-General Ri Ho Rim and “confirmation will be made through register books of citizens kept by people’s security institutions and relevant people’s committees and through information provided by those concerned and hearing testimonies made by witnesses, and measures will be taken”
- A panel tasked to investigate Japanese abducted Japanese nationals will be headed by Ministry of State Security Councilor Kim Myong Chol and shall “reinvestigate the abductees recognized by the Japanese government and confirm all records of each person from his or her entry”
- A panel focused on the whereabouts of Japanese nationals reported missing will be led by Pak Yong Sik, Minister of People’s Security Department Director and Vice Chairman of the Special Investigation Committee will enquire about the “entry into the DPRK of those who were reported missing and their identities will be confirmed by use of register books of citizens kept by the institutions of people’s security while taking the information provided by the Japanese side for reference.”
After the preliminary investigations about the predicament of Japanese nationals, the DPRK also announced that “personnel concerned of the Japanese side will be allowed to visit” in order to “ensure objectivity and transparency of the investigation.