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Families of abductees watch summit with wariness, hope

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Kenichi Ichikawa watches a live TV program of the U.S.-North Korea summit meeting in Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture, on Tuesday morning.

The Yomiuri ShimbunFamily members of 12 victims of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals, who have not been able to return to Japan, intently watched the U.S.-North Korea summit meeting on Tuesday.

After the U.S.-North Korea summit, Sakie Yokota, 82, the mother of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted in 1977 while on her way home from school at age 13, said, “It feels like something miraculous has happened.”

Pyongyang admitted that it had committed the abductions when Japan and North Korea held a summit meeting in 2002, and then five of the abduction victims returned home. Since then, however, a situation without any progress has continued.

Family members of abduction victims, hanging their hopes on the U.S.-North Korea summit meeting, greeted the day with deep emotion and fervent prayers.

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Hajime Matsumoto voices his hope of progress in the abduction issue at a press conference in Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, on Tuesday morning.

Kenichi Ichikawa, 73, an elder brother of Shuichi Ichikawa, who was abducted at age 23, watched a live TV broadcast of the summit meeting at his house in Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture, on Tuesday morning.

Shuichi was abducted in 1978 in Hioki, Kagoshima Prefecture, together with Rumiko Masumoto, who was then 24.

He silently watched U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands.

He said with a serious expression: “As one of the family members of abduction victims, I hate the North Korean leader and feel frustrated at him. But things will not progress, even if I continue to say such things.”

He also said shedding tears, “I hope the summit meeting will be successful and a goal to the resolution to the abduction issue will come into sight.”

Hajime Matsumoto, 71, an elder brother of Kyoko Matsumoto, who was abducted at the age of 29 in 1977 and was from Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, held a press conference in the city.

He expressed his aching desire, saying, “I hope that abduction victims can return home as soon as possible.”

He added, “While Mr. Trump provides the background, I want [the government] to win a firm commitment from North Korea that a Japan-North Korea summit meeting will be held.”

On Monday, the day before the summit, Shigeo Iizuka, 80, an elder brother of Yaeko Taguchi, who was abducted at age 22, and Yokota held a press conference in Tokyo. Yokota said at the press conference, “The day has finally arrived.” But she also showed a wavering sentiment, saying, “While I think that things will not go in line with our wish, I hold the hope that things may go into a good direction.”

Concerning Abe expressing his desire for a Japan-North Korea summit meeting, Yokota said, “Although I don’t know what kind of negotiation will be made, I hope things go in a good direction.”

Iizuka, chairman of the Association of Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea, said: “I want [the government] to obtain a promise from North Korea that Japanese abduction victims are returned. I expect much from Mr. Trump.”

But he also made a fiercely urgent comment: “We’re worried that this time’s summit meeting might be an extension of the history in which we have been cheated by North Korea. Because family members of the victims are aged, there won’t be any opportunities for us to resolve the issue, ever, if this time’s opportunity is missed.”Speech

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