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Mother of abductee asks Abe to meet with Kim Jong Un

By DAISUKE SHIMIZU/ Staff Writer

 

The mother of a Japanese girl who was abducted by North Korean agents 40 years ago called on the leaders of the two countries to meet to resolve the long-simmering issue.

 

“I would like Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to meet with Kim Jong Un this time around to discuss (the issue),” Sakie Yokota said on Nov. 18 at a gathering of about 800 people in Niigata.

 

Her daughter, Megumi, was 13 when she was abducted in 1977 on her way home from school in Niigata, where the family lived at that time. Nov. 15 marked the 40th anniversary of her disappearance.

 

Yokota, who lives in Kawasaki, has crisscrossed Japan to drum up public support for the resolution of the issue.

 

With family snapshots, including Megumi, displayed as a backdrop, Yokota, 81, said, “(The victims) are still shouting, ‘Please rescue us soon’ as they are locked up in that country after being taken there at the hands of the devil.”

 

Yokota described her meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump to implore his assistance when she and other relatives of the abductees met him on Nov. 6 in Tokyo along with the Japanese leader.

 

“Now is the chance (for a resolution),” she said. “The abduction issue is an issue for Japan as a nation. I would appreciate it greatly if the prime minister traveled to Pyongyang and sat down with Kim Jong Un to fully discuss the issue, instead of a falling-out.”

 

Also at the rally were Takuya, one of Yokota’s sons, and Hitomi Soga, one of five Japanese abductees who were returned to Japan in 2002.

 

Takuya said his 85-year-old father, Shigeru, can no longer attend gatherings aimed to renew attention to the question as often as he used to due to poor health.

 

“This is a reality that time has brought,” said Takuya, 49. “It is heartbreaking to see my parents searching for (Megumi) over the past 40 years.”

 

Soga, a native of Sado, Niigata Prefecture, said she spent time with Megumi after they were abducted to North Korea. She said she feels a sense of guilt for having returned to Japan while Megumi is still there.

 

“I will think of Megumi, whom I am very fond of, until the day she finally comes back,” said Soga, 58, who was abducted in 1978.

 

North Korea admitted to the abduction of Japanese citizens in 2002 when Kim’s late father, Kim Jong Il, and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi met in Pyongyang. After the return of five victims the same year, no breakthrough has been made since.

 

The Japanese government recognizes 17 individuals as abductees, but Pyongyang insists that all the others, except for the five, were either dead or had never entered North Korea.

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