Families Call for Early Return of Japanese Abductees at Rally

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Takuya Yokota, center, leader of the abductee family group speaks at the meeting of the group on Saturday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Takuya Yokota called for the early return of his older sister, Megumi, who was abducted by North Korea decades ago at the age 13, and other Japanese abductees at a rally in Tokyo on Saturday.

Yokota, 54, who heads a group of Japanese abductee families, told the rally that parents of abduction victims have passed away one after another while the issue has remained unresolved for a prolonged period of time. “There is no time left,” he stressed.

Yokota said his mother, Sakie, 87, is receiving treatment after being hospitalized temporarily about two months ago due to poor health. “We definitely want to bring all [of the abductees] back to their parents,” he said.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who attended the rally, was asked by Yokota to “look in the eyes of [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un and talk [with him] in person” as he did with fellow leaders of the Group of Seven major powers at the summit held in Hiroshima earlier this month.

Noting that no Japanese abductee has returned home since 2002, Kishida said, “The time-pressured abduction issue cannot be treated lightly even for a moment.”

“We’ll do our best to address [the issue] decisively, to realize the return of all abductees,” Kishida added, pledging efforts to advance negotiations to realize a meeting with Kim at an early date.

At the rally, participants adopted a resolution asking the Japanese government and North Korea to achieve the abductees’ return home all together immediately.

The event was attended by about 800 people, including families of abductees, supporters and parliamentary members.