Families of Japanese Nationals Abducted by North Korea Depart for U.S. to Seek Washington’s Support

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Takuya Yokota, left, and Koichiro Iizuka of the Association of Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea are interviewed at Haneda Airport on Monday.

Families of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea departed Haneda Airport for the United States on Monday to seek Washington’s support in resolving the abduction issue.

During their first visit since last May, the members of the Association of Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea (AFVKN) plan to stay in the United States until Friday and meet members of Congress and the National Security Council.

In February, AFVKN decided to adopt a new policy where they would not oppose the lifting of Japan’s individual sanctions imposed on North Korea if an “immediate return of all abductees” occurred while the parents of the abductees are still alive. The policy went further than its 2023 decision to “not oppose Japan’s humanitarian assistance to North Korea.” The association intends to gain the understanding of the U.S. side.

Takuya Yokota, representative of AFVKN, told reporters at the airport, “We will convey the painful feelings behind [the new policy] and that it is not a unilateral concession.” His older sister, Megumi, was abducted by North Korea when she was 13.

Koichiro Iizuka, 47, the group’s secretary general and the eldest son of Yaeko Taguchi who was abducted when she was 22, said, “The passage of a year is an extremely serious issue for elderly family members. The cooperation and understanding of the United States is essential to save our family members as soon as possible.”

The National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea and a bipartisan caucus are also accompanying AFVKN to the United States.