Families of Japanese Abductees Depart for U.S.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Takuya Yokota, right, leader of the abductee family group and Koichiro Iizuka are speaks at Haneda Airport on Tuesday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Families of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea decades ago began their trip to the United States on Tuesday to seek Washington’s support in resolving the abduction issue.

It is their first U.S. visit since May 2019, after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the Association of Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea and its support group, the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea, as well as a group of lawmakers working on the abduction issue left Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Tuesday morning.

“We are worried that the issue will be forgotten,” Takuya Yokota, 54, head of the family group and younger brother of Megumi, who was kidnapped in 1977 at the age of 13, told reporters at the airport. “I want to convey my desperate thoughts to each and every person face-to-face.”

They are set to meet officials from the U.S. National Security Council and the Defense Department, as well as members of both chambers of Congress.

The family group decided in February to tolerate Japanese humanitarian aid to North Korea, on the condition that all abductees return to Japan together while family members of their parents’ generation are still alive. It is expected to seek understanding over the decision from the U.S. side.

Megumi’s mother, Sakie, 87, will not travel to the United States this time. She released a statement saying that “the time for people around the world to join hands and stand up is approaching.”