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Families of Japanese abductees regret death of Iizuka

Tokyo, Dec. 25 (Jiji Press)–Relatives of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea decades ago expressed grief over the death of Shigeo Iizuka, former leader of a group representing them, at a press conference Saturday.

Koichiro Iizuka, 44, the eldest son of Yaeko Taguchi, Shigeo’s younger sister, who was kidnapped in 1978 at the age of 22, and Takuya Yokota, 53, who succeeded Shigeo as the group’s leader, attended the press conference in Tokyo.

“We cannot allow any more relatives of abductees to die without seeing the victims,” Yokota, a younger brother of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted in 1977 at age 13, said, calling for a swift return of the abduction victims.

According to Koichiro, Shigeo was rushed to a hospital after falling ill on Nov. 18, and died on Dec. 18, a week after he resigned as head of the group of families of abductees, due to interstitial pneumonia and vasculitis. Koichiro said that Shiego’s favorite drinks and food, as well as a notebook documenting the activities of the group were placed in his casket.

Shigeo wrote his concerns down on paper during his hospitalization, according to Koichiro. In a column for the family group, he wrote “Yaeko” along with the name of his successor, Yokota.

“I felt that he wanted to entrust me with the work of rescuing Yaeko,” despite not exchanging many words with Shigeo, Koichiro said.

“I regret not being able to let them reunite,” he added.

“If Shigeo were here, he would tell us to take step forward instead of crying,” Yokota said. “I want the Japanese government to take concrete measures to resolve the issue so that abductee families will not have to face any more grief.”

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