Families of Japanese Abductees ‘Not Against Lifting of Japan’s Sanctions Against N. Korea’ If All Abductees Return

The Yomiuri Shimbun
From left: Sakie Yokota, Tetsuya Yokota, Koichiro Iizuka and Takuya Yokota attend a press conference after a meeting of the Association of Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Sunday.

Families of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea have decided they would not oppose the lifting of Japan’s individual sanctions imposed on North Korea if an “immediate and comprehensive return of all abductees” occurred while the parents of the abductees are still alive.

At a meeting in Tokyo on Sunday, the Association of Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea (AFVKN) made the new action plan to urge both Tokyo and Pyongyang to act due to the parents of abductees passing away one after another. Sunday’s decision went further than the association’s February 2023 decision to “not oppose Japan’s humanitarian assistance to North Korea” on condition that all abductees return home immediately.

Tokyo has imposed on Pyongyang its own sanctions — including a total trade embargo and a ban on port calls by North Korean-registered ships such as the Mangyongbong cargo-passenger ship — which are separate from the United Nations Security Council resolution banning the export of luxury goods.

“We made a difficult decision,” AFVKN representative Takuya Yokota, 55, the younger brother Megumi Yokota who was 13 when she was abducted, told reporters after the meeting. “We want to resolve the issue as soon as possible and return the abductees to their families.”

The association had waged an opposition campaign against the Mangyongbong’s port call. Under the new action plan, AFVKN also said the group would “demand with anger Japan’s stricter sanctions” if the abductees were not returned home immediately while their parents were still alive and well.

About 40 people attended the meeting, including Megumi’s 88-year-old mother, Sakie, and Akihiro Arimoto, 95, whose daughter Keiko was 23 years old when abducted.

“The association helped us come up with the best plan,” Sakie said. “I hope everyone will return home in good health.”