The Yomiuri Shimbun The parents of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted by North Korea at the age of 13, called again for the return of their daughter on Wednesday, the 40th anniversary of her abduction.
Her 85-year-old father, Shigeru, and 81-year-old mother, Sakie, held a press conference in Kawasaki, where they currently live.
“We’ve been wondering why we can’t help her for such a long time. Please return our child soon,” Sakie said.
On Nov. 15, 1977, Megumi, who was a first-year junior high school student, was kidnapped by North Korean agents on her way home from school in Niigata after badminton practice.
“I don’t want to recall that day,” Sakie said. “I was running around the coast, shrine and other locations, calling out ‘Megumi-chan.’”
The abduction of Megumi came to light in January 1997 after a former North Korean agent revealed it.
Recalling the about 20 years until that point, Sakie said, “We suffered the greatest distress, as we had not the slightest idea where she had gone.”
In March 1997, Megumi’s parents joined the initiative to form a union of abductees’ family members.
“We’ve called for her rescue by doing everything we can, such as collecting signatures and giving lectures. We’ve hung in there, believing she might come back tomorrow,” Sakie said.
She also said she often strokes the face of Megumi in a picture at home, asking, “When will you be able to come home?”
“I want to see her even for one hour while I’m well,” said Megumi’s mother, who expressed concern over her advanced age and decline in physical strength.
During the press conference, Shigeru listened attentively to his wife. According to Sakie, he has been in poor physical condition and has difficulty expressing himself.
North Korea abducted a number of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s. The Japanese government has recognized 17 individuals in 12 cases as having been abducted by Pyongyang. Eleven North Korean agents, including Sin Kwang Su, 88, have been put on an international wanted list.
At a bilateral meeting of Japanese and North Korean leaders in September 2002, Pyongyang admitted for the first time that it had kidnapped Japanese nationals. Five abductees, including Kaoru Hasuike, 60, returned to Japan in October that year.
Pyongyang claimed that Megumi and others were dead, but a DNA test showed the cremated remains that it presented as belonging to Megumi were actually those of someone else.
In May 2014, North Korea agreed to reinvestigate the whereabouts of the abductees during intergovernmental talks in Stockholm. However, it unilaterally announced it would stop the investigation in February 2016. Since then, no progress has been made on the issue.
Besides the 17 abductees recognized by the government, the Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea, a Tokyo-based private organization, suspects about 470 other Japanese may have been kidnapped by agents of the country.Speech