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Home » Archives » November 2004 » North Korea Disappoints Families of Abductees Again

North Korea Disappoints Families of Abductees Again

Tuesday, November 16, 2004 Posted: 03:19 PM JST

A Japanese delegation that visited North Korea the past few week to unearth the true fate of 10 Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents returned yesterday without any new disclosures. Mitoji Yabunaka, head of the Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, and his team only received some new documents and an urn with ashes purported to be of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted 27 years ago at age 13.

North Korea repeated once again that eight of the ten abductees had died and that the two others never entered the country. North Korean officials however did admit that information they released in 2002 contained inaccuracies. Japanese officials at the time discovered that many of the documents they received had been falsified and the ashes purported to be of one of the abductees turned out to be of a totally unrelated person. Even the gender and age were incorrect.

This time the Japanese were handed photos, memos, medical records and books of Yaeko Taguchi, Keiko Arimoto and other abductees, as well as ashes that the North Koreans said were those of Yokota. Japan plans to carefully examine them to confirm authenticity. The Japanese delegates also met with Kim Chol Jun who claimed to have been Yokota's husband, and visited the hospital where Pyongyang claimed Yokota stayed before her death. Pyongyang said in 2002 that she committed suicide in 1993, but this time changed the date to April 1994. Unfortunately Kim's reports cannot be taken at face value because he refused to have his photo taken or to provide hair or blood samples for DNA tests, making it impossible to confirm if he really is who he claims to be.

The families of abductees expressed outrage by what they consider Pyongyang's continuous stalling. Megumi's mother Sakie Yokota said during a press conference late Monday evening that the Japanese government should not be deceived by North Korea. She is convinced that her child is still alive: ''The Japanese delegates said they met with a man who is said to be Megumi's husband, but he refused to show his face and is full of secrets...I cannot believe what Pyongyang says until the remains are verified to be those of Megumi.''

The families also wondered aloud why most of the data provided by North Korea focused on Megumi. Virtually no new information on the other abductees was released. ''There was no progress at all and the information was exactly the same as what we received in the report two years ago,'' said Shigeo Iizuka, brother of Yaeko Taguchi. Toru Hasuike, whose brother was one of five abductees who returned in 2002, added that much of the information provided by Pyongyang differs from that provided by Kaoru and his repatriated wife Yukiko.

Missing abductee Keiko Arimoto's father Akihiro said that he does not accept the North Korean explanations: ''Japan should take a firm stand and not hesitate to apply economic sanctions on such an untrustworthy country. There is no other way.'' A sentiment that has been echoed by several Japanese politicians.

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The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
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