KUALA NERUS: Japan has praised the Malaysian government for successfully bringing home nine Malaysians who were stranded in North Korea recently.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the praise was conveyed by Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia, Dr Makio Miyagawa,when both met at a luncheon in conjunction with the official visit of Crown Prince Naruhito.
Najib said the Japanese government had tried several times to get their own people released from North Korea but without success.
"The ambassador told me there were over 100 Japanese who had been kidnapped by North Korea in the 70s and 80s. They have no idea what happened to their nationals until today.
"They have negotiated hundreds of times but bore no results.
"The Japanese ambassador salutes Malaysia. We managed to bring home (nine Malaysians in North Korea)," he said at the launch of the Bukit Nanas People's Housing Programme (PPR) here.
Najib said the success story showed that Malaysia was now highly respected by other countries and that the opinion by Japan mattered most.
Tensions between Kuala Lumpur and Pyongyang arose following the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2) on Feb 13.
The nine Malaysians arrived in the country on April 1.
On the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project, the prime minister said the 600-kilometre rail project would benefit the people in Kemaman and Besut.
"I will leave for China next month as I was invited to attend a conference. One of the topics (at the conference) would be the ECRL project encompassing Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan.
"These three states will enjoy the benefits...but Pekan is not in the picture.
"I did not divert (the ECRL route) to Pekan although I am Pekan Member of Parliament.
"This was because I do this for the people. If we were to export (goods in the future), we can do so from Kemaman port as well as from Port Klang," he said.
Najib also said the decision by the government to embark on the ECRL project, to be constructed this year, was to spur higher gross domestic product (GDP) of the three east coast states by another 1.5 per cent at the current rate. - Bernama.