Photo/IllutrationYonago Mayor Takashi Igi, right, holds a written request to the central government to resolve the abduction issue in Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, on Nov. 20. (Shun Suzuki)

YONAGO, Tottori Prefecture--The city mayor here offered his support to Japan resorting to military action to resolve the long-running issue of Japanese nationals abducted by Pyongyang.

Speaking at a symposium here Nov. 20, Mayor Takashi Igi said he would not hesitate to back any such decision by the Abe administration to secure the safety of Japanese citizens snatched in the 1970s and '80s.

Later, in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun, Igi, 45, tempered his remarks by saying the issue must be resolved now while aging families of the victims are still alive.

The symposium, organized by the central government, the Tottori prefectural government, Yonago municipal authorities and other entities, has been held annually since 2010 to call for the abduction issue to be resolved once and for all.

About 300 people attended this year’s gathering, according to the organizers.

In his closing address, Igi said, “I believe we, as Japanese nationals, should respond with all of our hearts by fully backing possible military action or revisions to the Constitution that will enable it should the Abe Cabinet decide on such a course to recover abduction victims and demonstrate Japan’s sovereignty.”

The symposium was attended by Hajime Matsumoto, 71, whose sister Kyoko is one of 17 people recognized by the Japanese government as victims of abduction by North Korean agents.

Kyoko, who is from Yonago, was 29 when she disappeared near her home in 1977.

Akira Nishiizumi, a senior official with the central government’s Secretariat of the Headquarters for the Abduction Issue, also attended.

“I am not saying that Japan should take military action,” Igi said in the interview. “I'm saying that if the current government decides that military action is the only option or constitutional revision to allow for military action is necessary, I would support it to resolve the issue.”

Igi, a certified public accountant, was elected mayor for the first time in 2017 after serving as head of the youth section of the Yonago Chamber of Commerce and Industry.