Collaborating Authors

Abductees' relatives hope Trump-Kim summit will lead to return of loved ones

The Japan Times

As they watched footage of the historic summit between leaders of the United States and North Korea on Tuesday, relatives of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea decades ago expressed hope that the landmark meeting in Singapore will lead to the return of their loved ones. "For us (relatives of abductees,) we are pleased that we have finally come this far," Sakie Yokota, 82, told reporters who gathered at a small meeting hall near her home in Kawasaki, hours after the end of the meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "We wish for the Japan-North Korea relationship to recover soon, and sincerely hope that victims (of abductions) return in good shape," added Yokota, whose daughter, Megumi, was 13 years old when she was kidnapped in 1977 while on her way home from school in Niigata Prefecture. At a news conference after the meeting, Trump said he had discussed the abduction issue with Kim, although it was not included in a joint document signed by the two leaders. "I am not pessimistic … I knew things wouldn't be that easy," Yokota said, adding that she hopes Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet with Kim and discuss the abduction issue as soon as possible. Abe reiterated Tokyo's willingness to hold its own summit meeting with Kim to negotiate first-hand the return of abductees.

Abductees' families still hopeful after canceled U.S.-North Korea summit

The Japan Times

Families of Japanese people abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s expressed regret Friday at U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to cancel a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but remained hopeful they will eventually be reunited with their long-lost kin. "Neither North Korea nor the United States can keep doing nothing," said Sakie Yokota, 82, whose daughter Megumi was taken from Niigata Prefecture in 1977 at age 13 while on her route from school. The teen's abduction story was shared by Trump in September during his address at the U.N. General Assembly. North Korea has claimed that Megumi committed suicide in the 1990s after giving birth to a daughter, but the remains transferred to the family in 2004 were proven through DNA testing not to be hers. Megumi's brother Takuya, 49, was disappointed at the cancellation of the meeting, saying, "We had hopes for the U.S.-North Korean summit and a Japanese-North Korean summit to follow."

Families demand Abe keep abduction issue in spotlight during Trump-Kim Jong Un denuclearization talks

The Japan Times

The families of Japanese abducted by North Korean agents petitioned Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday to elicit U.S. President Donald Trump's decisive commitment to achieving the "immediate and comprehensive" return of abductees during their expected summit next month, calling Pyongyang's upcoming dialogue with world leaders a "now or never" chance to repatriate their loved ones. Upon meeting Abe, the families urged the leader to arrange with Trump "concrete steps" toward recovering the abductees. "Now is our last chance. There won't be another one like this. If we fail this time around, things will be out of control," Shigeo Iizuka, head of a group representing the abductees' families, told Abe at the start of their meeting.

Family urge resolution of North Korea abduction issue in first meeting with senior Biden official

The Japan Times

Family members of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s on Monday requested that U.S. President Joe Biden's administration focus on resolving the long-standing abduction issue. Sakie Yokota, 85, mother of then 13-year-old Megumi Yokota, who was kidnapped on her way home from school, and her younger brother Takuya, 52, filed the request addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a meeting with Joseph Young, charge d'affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. It marked the first time that relatives of abduction victims had met with a senior U.S. official since Biden took office in January. The meeting took place a day before the foreign and defense ministers of Japan and the United States hold security talks in the Japanese capital at which North Korea and other regional issues are on the agenda. "We requested the Biden administration focus on resolving the abduction issue," just as previous U.S. administrations did, Takuya Yokota, who serves as secretary general of a group of the victims' families, told reporters. Tsutomu Nishioka, chairman of an advocacy group for the abductees, joined the Yokotas in handing Young a letter asking the new U.S. administration to "continue closely cooperating with the Japanese government in striving to realize the swift repatriation of all abduction victims."

Family of Japanese abducted by North Korea express hope, fear over Trump's victory

The Japan Times

Relatives of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea decades ago expressed hope and concern Wednesday over progress on the issue following Republican Donald Trump's victory in the U.S. presidential election. Shigeo Iizuka, 78, head of a group representing abductees' families, said he hopes the president-elect will press North Korea to resolve the abduction issue. He said Pyongyang admitted to the abductions in 2002 and five abductees, including Kaoru Hasuike, were able to return to Japan in the wake of "strong pressure" from the United States. Iizuka's younger sister Yaeko Taguchi was kidnapped in 1978 when she was 22. There has been no substantial progress in talks on the issue, although North Korea agreed with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government in 2014 to reinvestigate the abductions of Japanese nationals.