Take a close look at photographs of the late Shinzo Abe and you will see a pin in the shape of a blue ribbon affixed to his lapel. Japan’s former Prime Minister was rarely without this memory pin, worn as a reminder of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s and the grieving families they left behind.
Abe spent much of his life in politics working to get North Korea to acknowledge the Japanese it had kidnapped and reunite those still living with their families in Japan. He raised the issue as a backbench member of the Diet. He took part in the first Japan-North Korea summit in 2002, when then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi negotiated the return of five Japanese kidnap victims. During his two terms as Prime Minister, he pressed the issue with successive American Presidents, encouraging them to meet with the families of Japanese abductees.