Families of Possible Japanese Abductees Call For Truth to be Uncovered, Swift Rescue of Missing Persons

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kazuo Inoue talks about his younger brother, who went missing in 1971, at a gathering in Tokyo on Saturday.

About 600 people, including the families of about 470 Japanese nationals who may have been abducted by North Korea, called at a recent gathering in Tokyo for all the relevant facts to be uncovered and the missing persons rescued soon.

In addition to 17 people officially recognized by the Japanese government as having been abducted by North Korea, there are about 470 missing persons for whom the possibility cannot be ruled out, according to the Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea (COMJAN), a private organization that investigates the 470 cases.

Thirty-nine families, including those of the 17 abductees, were among the participants in the Saturday meeting. It was the first large-scale gathering to be held by COMJAN in 13 years.

COMJAN has designated 77 out of the 470 as people who “were highly likely kidnapped by North Korea.”

Seventy families of the 470 participated in the previous COMJAN gathering in 2010, but the number of the attending families has decreased due to aging and other factors.

At the Saturday meeting, family members held up photos of the missing persons and shared their hopes and thoughts before a microphone.

“My family’s only wish is to have my younger sister back home,” said Tamaji Takeshita, 79, a sister of Noriko Furukawa, who went missing when she was 18 after she left her home in Chiba Prefecture in 1973.

“My parents died without seeing my younger brother again. Please let me see him while I am still alive,” said Kazuo Inoue, 76, a brother of Katsuyoshi Inoue, who went missing in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, in 1971 when he was 21.

Prior to the meeting, COMJAN announced that it had added five people to its list of “people who are certain to have been abducted by North Korea.” Among them are Takeshi Terakoshi, 74, who was 13 when he was abducted with his two uncles while fishing off the Noto Peninsula in 1963. The uncles have also been added to the list. Terakoshi was later confirmed to be alive in North Korea. Married, he now lives in that country.

Although the possibility that Terakoshi was abducted by North Korea cannot be ruled out, the family of Terakoshi in Japan has denied he was abducted out of consideration for his safety.

The remaining two are Kenzo Kosumi from Hokkaido, who went missing at the age of 27, and Kimiko Fukutome from Kochi Prefecture, who went missing at 24 years old. Kosumi’s family register was found to have been manipulated to make it represent a North Korean agent. Fukutome is believed to have married a suspect in the 1970 hijacking of a Japan Airlines jetliner to Pyongyang by the now-defunct Japanese Red Army terrorist group.

“We encourage the Japanese government to clarify and solve the cases,” said Kazuhiro Araki, who represents the COMJAN.