Families of abductees by N.Korea call for rescue

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Sakie Yokota, mother of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted by North Korea, call for rescue of abductees to North Korea, in a major rally attended by PM Kishida, right, in Tokyo on Sunday.

Families of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea held a rally in Tokyo on Sunday to call for the immediate return of abductees still in the North.

The families expressed their anger that some abductees remain in North Korea 20 years after five abductees returned to Japan in October 2002.

During the rally, which was held in the capital’s Chiyoda Ward, the families renewed their determination not to give up on their hopes of being reunited with their abducted family members.

“How long must we continue with this painful living hell?” said Takuya Yokota, 54, the younger brother of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted by North Korea at the age of 13.

The head of an association of families of abductees also called on the government “to completely resolve the issue while the parents [of abductees] are still alive and well.”

Megumi’s 86-year-old mother Sakie said: “We want to make sure that the victims are rescued. We want to let them set foot on Japanese soil.”

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida — who returned from a visit to Australia earlier that day — attended the rally and said: “It’s deeply regrettable that not a single victim has been able to return home since 2002. We’ll do our utmost to ensure that all the victims return home as soon as possible.”

Kishida met with the abductee families prior to the rally.

About 800 people attended the meeting and held a silent prayer for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who had worked on the abduction issue for many years.